DURING the Agriculture Correspondents Association of Nigeria (ACAN) Agriculture Summit, stakeholders in the agriculture Sector have agreed that there is need for the government and the private sector to invest more in agriculture in order to develop the sector, create jobs, and end hunger by 2030.
The summit which came as a result of the government’s effort in diversifying the economy from oil to non oil production and exportation, and the need to create jobs, feed the populace through the empowerment of small holder farmers who constitute of 70 per cent of farmers population.
In his address, the Chairman of ACAN, Mr John Oba said “it will be a thing of excitement to rural farmers if soil testing is made affordable and accessible to smallholder farmers. So, also access to improved seeds made available to smallholder farmers”.
He said ACAN is committed to engaging smallholder farmers on best agricultural practices, stressing that “we believe to achieve the dream of ending hunger all hands must be on deck. Beyond reporting, we will engage farmers and attempt to address the information gap. Moreover, farmers should have access to subsidized farm equipment by government for improved food production”.
Various agriculture value chain in Nigeria are neglected by the government when rolling out its interventions in the sector. The Poultry industry especially, has the capacity to create jobs and eradicate hunger.
There are various programs of the government that if an- egg- per person is put in the menu, it will go a long way to encourage the Poultry farmers to produce more eggs and sell at a very low price.
Some of these programmers include school feeding program, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) feeding program, Prison feeding program. If egg is included in these feeding programs, it will not just create jobs, it will also help fight malnutrition.
The Director General of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Dr Anallo Akpa said Poultry alone contributes 25 per cent of the agricultural Gross Domestic Product of the Nigerian economy.
“The Poultry industry is very strategic to agricultural development of this country, most people say that Poultry is the most active commodity in the agricultural sub-sector of this country. The Poultry industry alone contributes 25 per cent of the agricultural Gross Domestic Product of the economy.
“In the last 12 years, we have been able to achieve so much. As we are aware, the value chain of Poultry production does not stop at the Poultry alone, it goes into the crop areas, because almost 70 to 75 per cent of the cost of production of poultry is grains, like Maize and soybean.
“So, we are not only poultry producers, we are also people involved in the entire value chain of the strategic sectors of the agricultural value chain, and so far we have been able to do so much, we have a lot of programmers coming on”, he said.
Basically, the major problem Nigerian farmers encounter is applying the wrong fertilizer on the wrong soil, the fertilizer will not make any positive impact on the crop because the soil is not compatible with the fertilizer.
Consequently, the Federal Government had embarked on soil mapping which is targeted at identifying the different soils in the country and their locations, this will assist in the distribution of fertilizers to farmers, so that they (farmers) get the fertilizer that is compatible with their soil.
The Registrar of Nigerian Institute of Soil Science, Professor Victor Chude, warned that Nigeria’s quest for food security would remain a mirage, unless the present application of fertilizer to crops is changed.
Chude, while speaking at the ACAN Agriculture Summit lamented that there has been low crop yields and productivity as a result of the use of conventional, blanket fertilizer which more often than not, is NPK 15:15: 15 fertilizer.
He explained that NPK fertilizer is not suitable for all soils, adding that the present trend where the same brand fertilizer is supplied to farmers was counter-productive.