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--;:~1HE G\.JARDIAN; S\ll1day; May15,2011

How Tractor Seller Supports FalJl1ers In India By OIukayode Oyeleye (whowaslnPune) lTENDRA R. Pandit, the managing director of Ventile Co. Pvt. ltd on Sa tara Road, Pune, a wn of about 150 km east of Mumbai conSiders himself a successful man. Sin ce 1981 when he jo ined his fath er in tractor bu siness, he has not looked back. His son has also joined him in the business and he boasts of being the leading tractor merchant in India. Pandit, a major authorised dealer

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for Mahindra tractors who sells over a hundred yearly, opened up on the secret of his business recendy. He told the Nigerian bankers, tractor operators, Mahindra Nigeria's representative, and leading officials of PrOpCo m, an NGO, and The Guardian that he not only sells tractors in retail, he has deve loped a busmess model aro~nd t he trade. He hired two agnculture graduates that offer consultancy and su pportive services to farmers, including soi l test-

ing, agricultural practices and other related areas of back-up services. He has raised the conscious ness of many farmers in his areas of operation by rendering services whi ch are supposed to be rendered by th e government officials. To him, tractorsales and servici ng at the pnvate sector level IS the most rehable thmg. He gnnned when asked what happened to the government officials, saying "they are nor there." He has therefore

been able to help many farmers avoid running in wrong direction, mitigating risks and increasing their income. He sa id he has partnersh ip arrangement with some experienced researchers who are paid to analyse reports brought from the field , ranging from irrigation to soil preparation and aavises the farmers accord mgly on what to plant and how. He sells new tractors, buys fairly used, and rese lls them after refurbi shing. . Despite his understanding that average farm sizes in India are just about two to four hectares per farmer, Pandit exp lained how he has been able to make a success in the business of selling tractors. According to him, although big tractors are sold, there are also farmers and farmlands that requJre only small tractors, based on the smallness of their sizes. He has an arrangement that involves officials that work with farmers, help-

ing them to make money to pay back for their farm machinery. Mahindra & Mahindra, the manufacturers of tractors, with their biggest plant in Mumbai, have been Pandit's one and only customer. He has lived with their products and sees them as dependable. He told a Nigerian tractor operator who complained of some manufacturing erro rs that Mahindra's tractors have been working we ll on Indian fields and ha ve not had the specific problems referred to, bringing manual s to exp lain his point. He has also bui lt a lasting relationship with some banks t hat have been his enduring partners in business. He sees himself, not just as se lling tractors, but as addingvalue to agricultural value cha ins. His sig nals were clea r: what he has done successfu lly in India could be success full y rep licated in Nigeria .

Holland, Rivers Govt Partner To Boost Agric Kelvin Eblrl, Port Harcourt E NETHERLANDS has donated two million Euros to support the Rivers State Uni, versity of Science and Technology (RSUST) for agricultural research. The cou ntry's Ambassador to Nigeria, Bert Ronhaar, who disclosed this sa id the fund is expected to be used main ly to support cassava, fisherie s as well as other agricultural erideavour PHOTO: OlUKAVOOE OVElEVE that would boost food security in Rivers state. Ronhaarduring a visit to the vice chancellor of RSUST, tion. Professor Barineme Fakae, "Presently, we have 300 associain Port Harcourt, explained that tions of sesame farm ers, 200 rice the amount was part of his govfarmers aSSOC iations, 200 dairy ernme nt's commitment to fifarmers association, and fish eries narice a Memorandum of farmers aSSOC iations, among oth- Understanding (MoU) Signed bee rs, who we have been screened tWeen the Rivers State Sustainable and approved for the loan". Development Agency (RSSDA) and "The loan will be paid back by ben- the uni versity recently. efiCiary farmer in seven years; the As part of the MoU, the RSSDA in interest is only nine per cent, collaboration with the RSUST which is also negotiable between would establish six new five-hunthe farmers association and the dred hecta re farm each 's pread banks". across the state as part of govern"The aims and objective for intro- ment's Songhai Rivers initiative ducing the scheme by federal gov- to boost food security and create ernment," he said, are "to empower emp loyment opportunity for inthe farmers and boost food pro- digen es of the state and to mitiduction in commercial quantities." gate poverty through food The co mmiss ioner, however, re路 security vealed that, presently the state gov- The agreement would also res ult ernment has approved for the in the establishment of RSSDA's construction Of l,OOO water pumps integrated model regional farms across the state for the improve- at Onn e. This implies that the ment of irrigation activities. agency would be taking over the From

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A tractor driving out of maintenance workshop In Pune, India.

Jigawa Guarantees Nl Billion Loan For Farmers From John Akubo, Dutse

' GAWA State executive council has given approval for the sta te's Ministryof Agriculture to obtain e billion naira loan from the federal government's commercial agricultural scheme. The secreta ry to the state governmem, Alhaji Aminu Abdullahi Taura, who made the disclosure while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the state executive counci l meeti ng lasr week sa id the council has given the ministry the go-ahead tQ commence the process. We loo ked at the memo from the commissioner of Ag riculture and Water Resources on the ways and means by which the state gove rnmentwill assist indi ge n ~s to access the Commercial Agricu lture Cred it Scheme loan. We have approved for the ministry to go in to the process of accessing Nlbillion loan, for farmers," he stated. -

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Elaborating on the loan, the state commissioner for agriculture AIhaji Nasidi Ali, stated that, the loan was part of the N200 billion naira set a side by federal government for the improvement of commercial agricu lture in Nigeria. He said federal government has categorised the monex in to two in which 60 per cent Will be distributed at federal level and 40 percent at state level. The commiss ioner indicated that each state will receive Nlbillion for onward distribution to its farmers. According to him, the state ministry of agricu lture has gone far in discussion with farmers' associations for distribution and mode of payment of the loa n. Alahji Nasidi Ali added that, over 1,000 farmers association with minimum of20 members each are expected to benefit from the loan in the state when it is ready for collec-

Rivers In stitute for Ag riculture Research and Training centre. Ronhaar sa id the money was part of the contribution of the Dutch government to the ove rall investmentvalued at 7.8 million Euros. The Ambassador revealed that a renowned uni vers ity in Netherland s is presently discuss ing with th e Rivers State gove rnm en t through the RSSDA, primarily to increase level of cooperation in re路 search and education with RSUST. "I have been discussing with a university in Netherlands. where we can increase the coopera tion in the field of research and educa tion , beca use agriculture is a major secto r for the Rivers State government and a lso for the Dutch government in its policy for the development cooperation and investment promotion to support food se lf suffiCiency" he sa id. The Netherlands gove rnment , according to him, is wo rking assiduously on imp roving cassava production in West Africa, particularly Nigeria a nd other parts of Sub-Sahara Africa where the so il condition are deemed favourable . He noted that his country recognises tha t motivating the younger generation in the continent will help increase agricu ltural productivity. Fakae lauded the be nevo lence of The Netherlands, saying the unive rSity authority is trying to stimulate the interest of students in ag riculture and food producti on.

Failure Of ECOWAS Trade Scheme COIrnNUEO FROM PAGE 73

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under the West Africa n Monetary Union (WM1U), removal of regional tariffs and any obstructions in the way of expanding trad'e relation ships among member sta tes and the establishment of a mechanis m for conflict prevention , management, reso lution , peacekeeping and that security must be g iven priority and put into operation. The director general of the Nigerian Customs, Dikko Abdullahi, represented by the deputy comptroller, Apapa Port, Mr. San ni Adegboyega, after highlighting some requirements for export trade and steps to benefits from the sc heme, argued that the success of ETLS depends on many variables , such as sufficient and continuous enlightenment of prospective traders due to ignorance of documentation requirements. "The necessity for documentation, compliance with extant regu lations and laws on expo rt trad e, good packaging and labeling. special certification for regulated food products and strict adherence to rules of origin, using approved customs routes wil l ensure the expected success of exports by Nigerian companies under the ETLS," he further said. Also speaking at the workshop, an assistant director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ECOWAS division, Mr. Safiu Olukayode Olaniyan, noted that there are many factors militating against smooth implementation of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme

(EnS). He identified some of the factors as slow progress towards integration, limited sub-regional market, absence or poor app lication of marl<et-driven strategies, poor im路 plementation of protocol of free movement, mono-cultural eco nomies, infrastructura l challenges, lack of regional vessels, and fear of dominatio n. He, however, expressed belief that if the ECOWAS sub-region was to live up to its expectations, the ETLS would have to be more 'aggressively implemented by ensuring that its Tramework is better understood by sta keholders with the aid of workshops and retreats on geographical and sectoral lines, and ensure sub-regional infrastructural development as we ll as further elimination of barriers. "It is also imperative that ECOWAS member states increaSingly take complementary actions that would enhance regional market accessibility," he observed. The chairman of the technica l sess ion of the workshop, Mr. Romeo Barberopoulos, on his part, maintained that all the challenges militating against the implementation of ETlS must be eliminated because it encourages informal trade not beneficial to government as huge revenue, which should be going to the government, is lost due to informal trading activities. - In moving forward, he recommended that exporters must put their house in order first,

the Customs and other regulatory bodies should roll out guidelines on the ETLS policy and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry mu st come up with incentives that wi ll aid bilateral trades among ECOWAS countries. The President of Nigeria-Ghana Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Micnael Ajayi, observed that the commitment of the government is lacking. This, he said, was why 80 per cent of the trade among member states remains informal. He found it very absurd that in most Nigeria missions. there are no trade departments to help guide Nigeria exporters and

business men from other climes. The participants generally consented that the level of trade and investment engagement of Nigeria within the ECOWAS ca n determine the rate of its economi c development now and in the future. Th ey also prayed thatth e workshop wou ld not be like others in which the outcomes are not taken seriously by the government and the respective agencies meant to implement it: They also argued that, in moving forward , government must stop paying lip-service to growing the non-oil export secto r.

THE GUARDIAN, 15 MAY, 2011  

Holland, Rivers Govt Partner to Boost Agric