By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA—FOLLOWING the high cost of diesel, Federal Government is considering bio-diesel as an alternative source of fuel for farmers to enhance food production and supply.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe, who disclosed this in his office in Abuja, expressed concern over the persistent hardship farmers face in accessing diesel, which now sells for between N200 and N210 per litre.
He said: “This is happening during the planting season; preventing the people from using tractors and power tillers on the farms. The impact on food production is quite severe.
“This keeps happening every year, as the planting season coincides with the shortage of diesel needed to operate our tractors. This is part of the issues making agricultural productivity in this country so uncertain.
“We will take a look at the production of Jathropha seeds and oil processing to give farmers self-sufficiency in diesel production as an organic fuel (bio-diesel). This is expected to promote renewable energy, improve our environment and reduce expenses on importation.”
Ogbe also assured mechanised farmers all over the country that the problem of diesel supply and pricing would be addressed to cushion the effects on their operations and avoid negative impact on food production in 2016, vowing to tackle the problem, both in the long and short terms.
According to him, the ministry will, in the short term, appeal to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to help, as soon as possible, to ease the tight supply situation.
He also promised that his ministry would meet the dealers and refiners of petrol to find an immediate solution to the high cost of the product to give relief to tractor owners, operators and farmers.
Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development distributed 500 threshers and 100 power tillers to farmers in 12 states for processing of rice, wheat, maize, millet and other grains to boost food production and self-sufficiency.