During a flag-off event of the Rural Agricultural Development Consortium (RAD-C) themed “Repositioning Nigeria Agriculture for Global Competitiveness” held in Abuja, Dr. Ahmed Adekunle, the Chief Executive of Nigerian Agricultural Mechanization and Equipment Leasing Company (NAMEL) said that Nigeria has been experiencing low agricultural productivity which is less than 1 percent and this is not good for the country. He added that one of the reasons is that there have been over 200 percent increments in the price at which farm inputs are acquired.
Recently, the acquisition cost of farm input has affected almost all things including the price of fertilizers and herbicides, diesel price has also hiked by 300 percent, and as of 2013, a tractor cost 5.5 million naira but today the price has increased to 35 million naira acquiring that same tracker. According to Development experts, Nigeria’s population is projected to be 263 million by 2030 and 401 million by 2050. With these projections, our agricultural productivity is at a rate of less than 1 percent and with this, it will be harder to compete with global agriculture competitive countries like Brazil, China, India, Thailand, Vietnam etc,
The RAD-C will create new opportunities for communities and farmers.
Dr. Ahmed Adekunle believes that it is necessary to reposition the agricultural sector in order to make it more competitive on a global scale and to address the problem of food insecurity in the country, and the RAD-C model will speed up the process of completing projects for enhancing the nation’s food, nutritional, and social security. According to him, this model will not engage in competition with smallholder farmers for the available lands; rather, it will develop the unused neighboring arable lands, thereby creating new opportunities for both the communities and the farmers.
Furthermore, the short-term aim of RAD-C is to develop 500,000 hectares of neighboring farmland across multiple states. This would result in the creation of one million direct jobs and approximately two million indirect jobs for community youths and women. Additionally, it will assist in the production of 2.5 million tonnes of top-quality crops on an annual basis. These crops include rice, maize, wheat, and cassava, have the potential to bring an estimated N50 billion investment worth directly to the nation’s rural communities. More so, this will also contribute at least 100 percent yield per hectare to enhance the rural economy and speed up the development of approximately one hundred communities, thereby lowering the rural-to-urban migration rate and poverty index.
The Agricultural sector lacks adequate facilities to fight food insecurity.
Speaking on the same, the Director of Agriculture and Agro-Industry, Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Martin Fregene said the COVID-19 pandemic affected ecosystems and result in the global food crisis, which also led to the food crisis in Africa. According to him, Africa possesses an enormous amount of potential, including sunlight, massive land, and human capital resources; however, we rely on countries that are currently engaged in a war to get out agricultural supplies. Africa needs technology in order to advance the agricultural sector and increase productivity.
Dr. Martin added that part of the things to do to improve agricultural productivity includes making high-quality seeds widely available and affordable to farmers, provision of a good storage system, and adequate financing. However, The African Development Bank has been also trying to alleviate some of the challenges facing food productivity in Africa. Engr John Drain, the deputy director, of the Department of Engineering and Mechanization of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, (FMARD) also explained that if the appropriate mechanization is not used, it will be difficult to tackle the issue of food security. To succeed as a nation, we must tackle the issues facing the agriculture sector, such as climate change, the use of mechanization, agribusiness, and the Agro-economy.
Nigeria’s government also aims to boost agriculture with some initiatives.
In an effort to boost agricultural productivity in the country so that sufficient quantities of food can be produced to satisfy the demand in the local markets, as well as an abundance of commodity crops that can be sold on the international market, the Nigeria government has also introduced a number of initiatives and programs, some of which include Agriculture Promotion Policy (APP); Presidential Economic Diversification Initiative; Nigeria–Africa Trade and Investment Promotion Program; Economic and Export Promotion Incentives and the Zero Reject Initiative; Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP); Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+); Action Against Desertification (AAD) Programme, among others.