The joint venture Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in Abuja between UNN and HITI under the Partnership Development Programme on Nigeria Agricultural Mechanisation Local Content Support Initiative.
Speaking at the event, Mr Ike Willie-Nwobu, Transactional Adviser to HITI, said that the project would be domiciled at the Anambra Motor Manufacturing Company (ANAMMCO) plant, Enugu.
He said that an Israeli automotive firm would be providing mentorship and guardian manufacturing support.
According to him, the technical support is under the auspices of Chinese-Israeli European Technical Partnership Guide with the Digital Bridge Institute, Abuja, providing Tractor Information and Communication Management System (TICMS).
The transactional adviser said that the initiative was necessitated by the need to develop agriculture and agro-business.
“This initiative is conceptualised to ensure the following: begin and sustain local manufacturing and maintenance of tractors in addition to value addition for the farmers who are using the tractors.
“Support to agriculture thus leading to the stated diversification of the economy from a mono-product economy to a multi-product economy.
“Invest in Medium and Small Scale Enterprises which will drive the economy of Nigeria.
“Create jobs by restoring the functionality of ANAMMCO in addition to empowering farmers and others along the value chain.’’
Willie-Nwobu said that the global linkages and partnerships provided by the MoU would create global competitiveness.
On his part, UNN Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Benjamin Ozumba, said that the initiative would fast-track sustainable agricultural mechanisation in Nigeria using higher institutions as focal centres.
Ozumba said that the medium and long-term goal of the initiative was to leverage the huge concentration of skilled manpower and human resources in universities to provide solutions to tractor challenges in Nigeria.
“Students, under close supervision and mentorship, would be drafted to assemble tractors, provide service/maintenance back-up and operations so that farming and food security initiative of the Federal Government would be achieved.
“In addition to providing solution to food challenges, students of our higher institutions will have the opportunity to serve as extension staff, learn in practical terms and contribute to their communities while earning good money at same time.
“The proposed HITI will be powered through the four platforms — Tractor Assembly Manufacturing Production (TAMP), Tractor Value Chain Support Services (TVCSS), Tractor Vocational and Entrepreneurship Programme (TCEP) and Tractor Outreach/Extension Workshop Support Centres(TOEWSC).
“The initiative will also incorporate partnership with optional Asian-Turkey-European and Israel systems and institutions for Integrated Agric/Farm project, Modern Agricultural/Mechanisation Innovation Relay Centres.’’
He said that the project was geared towards providing alternative tools of thinking for the country using innovation linkages.
In his remark, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma, said that the Federal Government was committed to making agriculture attractive to young graduates.
Represented by Mr Kayode Obasa, the Director of Economic Growth in the ministry, Udoma said that the Federal Government would continue to promote agro-mechanisation platforms in the country.
The minister said that Nigeria needed additional 100,000 to 200,000 tractors in the next five years to meet its agro-production target.
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