In a bid to guarantee food security in Nigeria, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, has called on farmers and other stakeholders to adopt modern farming techniques as panacea to food sufficiency.
Lokpobiri made the call during a courtesy visit by a delegation from the Africa-Asia Rural Development Organisation, AARDO, led by Secretary General of the Organisation, Eng. Wassfi Hassan El Sreihin in his office in Abuja.
He maintained that with sustained rural socio-economic development migration to urban centres will reduce drastically, and that would lead to economic activities springing up, which will attract investors to the rural areas as well.
Adding that if urban migration will be properly tackled, poverty and crime; pressure on the amenities in the urban areas currently being experienced in the country would be minimized. He also lamented the wide gap food production, which has not been bridged over the years as a result of depending on traditional methods of farming with no basic modern technology, whereby rural farmers have continued to produce food and not attaining the expected results of high productivity.
According to him, recently the federal government has been embarking on efforts to tackle the situation through policies and infrastructural development of the rural communities in the country.
He said: “The only way we can feed ourselves is for us to develop our capacity, embrace modern farming technology and techniques so that we will continue to enjoy high productivity, not the subsistent farming we are used to.
“Nigeria is a country where we are basically being fed by the rural dwellers. If rural development is not given priority, and already studies have shown that there is urban migration because of lack of development in the rural areas, the cities would soon be over crowded.”
“If those people in the rural areas are empowered through capacity building, through technology transfer to be able to stay there and continue to cultivate in agriculture, poverty would be reduced, there will be less crime, and there will be less pressure on the limited amenities that we find in the urban areas.”
The minister also pointed out that the only difference between the agricultural system in Africa and those of the advanced economies remains use and deployment of technologically advanced equipment.
He also gave examples between the Nigeria climate and that of the Latin American countries, which he said are basically the same, and said that, “Because sometimes we don’t want to be relevant in techniques, the yield over there could be 20 tonnes per hectare while here it could be two tonnes. This is basically because of the way we plan and the way we manage our cropping system.”
Explaining the purpose of their visit, Secretary General of AARDO, Eng. Wassfi Hassan El-Sreihin, said that the organization remains committed to collaborating with rural farmers in the country to grow and develop the sector, because of Nigeria’s strategic position in Africa and the West African sub-region. Sreihin said:
“We assure you that we will offer our assistance to the country. This is my first official visit to Nigeria since I took over as the Sec Gen in 2011. As you know Nigeria is a very important country in this region and the world. Since then we have been collaborating and enhancing the lives of the rural people of Nigeria, neighbouring countries and members of the organisation.
“Since 1999 when Nigeria became a member of the organisation, Nigeria has benefited from our technical work programme, including human capacity building. AARDO offers many hundreds of training programmes and fellowships every year in different countries in Asia and Africa which officials from Nigeria benefits from.”
Recall that sometime last year, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned that lack of modern farming techniques was threatening Africa’s food security.
Josef Kienzle, FAO’s Leader of the Mechanisation task team, said that unless the governments adopted new technologies of farming, the continent would continue relying on food aid.
The FAO official noted that the use of rudimentary hand tools and little access to mechanization and inputs such as quality seeds and fertiliser was further complicating agricultural productivity in the continent that has a high population growth rate.
Kienzle said that the majority of smallholders in Africa are women due to the fact that rural-urban migration has forced youths out of the farms to look for other means of making a living. “There is need to incorporate the youths by re-positioning farming as a lucrative business enterprise for them to venture into and supplement production,” he added.
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