Port Harcourt, Dec. 20, 2023:) The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, has advised African countries to invest heavily in agriculture for the continent to achieve food security and economic growth.
Kagame, represented by the 2nd Counsellor, Rwanda High Commission in Nigeria, Vianney Rubagumya, gave the advice during Monday night’s Dinner held at the Presidential Hotel, Port Harcourt.
He unveiled the 120 Horsepower Tractor machine produced by Bobtract Tractor Nigeria Limited at the ceremony.
He urged African countries to invest heavily in agricultural development programmes through their national budgets.
According to him, food security and economic growth will be assured, when Africa invests heavily in agriculture.
“Getting this business selection with Bobtract under the arrangement of the high Commissioner, I want to tell the guests here that having business interaction with Bobtract we have come to realise that what he is doing down here in Rivers can be extended to any other part of the country,” he said.
He gave assurance that the company would be welcomed in Rwanda, should the company extend its business to the country.
He also assured the company that having a market in Rwanda meant having a market in the whole African communities.
He congratulated Bobtract for unveiling the machine for agriculture and assured him that Rwanda would be committed to facilitate his team to have such a business opportunity in other side of the African continent.
The Chief Executive Officer of the company, Ibifiri Bobmanuel, said that Nigeria had great potentials in agriculture, than other sectors.
Bobmanuel said there was need for Nigerians “to wake up to the potentials in what and things they do”.
He said that oil would phase out soon, but the economy could be sustained, if agriculture was sustained.
He said that the use of the machine in the South-South region and Nigeria at large would be a game changer in agriculture.
“The country has been practicing subsistence farming to date and this is not profitable.
“For Nigeria to embark on profitable farming, there is need for mechanised agriculture.
“Other countries in African recognise the potential of agriculture and mechanised farming, which is why the President of Rwanda instructed his High Commissioner here in Nigeria to grace this unveiling,” Bobmanuel said.
He thanked the government of Rwanda for finding time to visit Nigeria and key into the project.
“We developed the product in Europe, produced and assembled it in Port Harcourt because tractors produced outside the country were produced with the density of the country’s terrain, not made for African terrain.
“We produce the value chain of pluer, harrow, flasher, harvester, processor for rice and garri, among others,” he said.
Bobmanuel further said that the mechanised agriculture tractor would help small holder farmers to expand their agriculture businesses from one plot of land to 30 and 40 hectares.
According to him, small holder farmers cannot go beyond two plots of land due to the cost of tilling manually.
But with mechanisation, farming becomes easier, cheaper and affordable for serious-minded agriculturists to expand their business.
Bobmanuel called on government at all levels to support agriculture and local content manufacturers to boost the country’s economy.
In a remark, Mr Moris Ogolo, the Permanent Secretary, Rivers Ministry of Agriculture, applauded Bobtract for producing the tractors in the state.
Ogolo, who represented the Rivers Government, said that the state had gone beyond oil and gas production to producing palm and rice, among other agricultural products.
“The introduction of this product in the region will contribute more to what the state is doing and will also boost the economy of the state and Nigeria,” he said.
He gave assurance that the state would be committed to support the mechanised agriculture project.
Also, the National Vice President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr Giandomenico Massari, said that Nigeria is blessed as a country with all kinds of resources.
Massari said that MAN was doing a lot to boost the economy of the country through the production of commodities.
He called on the government to support the association in local content production, saying that more production in Nigeria would create more employment opportunities.
In a remark, a Governorship Candidate in Rivers in 2019, Mr Isaac Wonwu, called on government to create an enabling environment for agriculture production to thrive.
Wonwu said that adequate security and government support for farmers would enhance agricultural production in the country.