COVID-19 has had a dire impact on the financial system, resulting in persistent lockdowns and looming excessive unemployment. It has additionally elevated the pressure on meals demand.The scenario is a crucial problem. On this interview with DANIEL ESSIET, Chief Govt, Agricultural and Rural Administration Coaching Institute (ARMTI), Dr Olufemi Oladunmi suggests measures to enhance the nation’s meals safety and obtain a greater place in its stability of funds.
Some vital reforms have been launched to extend the nation’s agricultural output. How has the agricultural sector responded to them since 1979?
Reforms and insurance policies are devices of change. They don’t, on their very own, change something till they’re set in movement by constant implementation over a time period. I’ll say that the nation’s agricultural sector is rising, however not on the tempo we hoped it would but. That is, maybe, resulting from the truth that we’re nonetheless being distracted by a budget cash we get from oil. Nevertheless, the trail of agricultural commodity worth chain growth that the nation is treading is a welcome growth for accelerated progress and growth of the sector.
What are the highest agricultural points Nigeria ought to concentrate on to fulfill its meals safety wants?
We have to pay extra consideration to problems with post-harvest loss administration, agricultural produce processing, farmer (i.e. smallholders) empowerment, market linkage, entry to improved agricultural inputs, irrigation, mechanisation, amongst others.
Folks have been speaking about productiveness enhancement by means of growth of high-value commodity provide chains. Whereas this has been pushed largely by the personal sector, what better position can the general public sector play?
Agricultural commodity worth chains are principally personal sector-driven. The general public sector is anticipated to enhance the personal sector by offering an enabling enterprise atmosphere; and regulating actors and transactions alongside the assorted commodity chains.
Would you say agricultural analysis has grow to be extra related to deal with the rising challenges confronted by farmers?
Given the speed at which the world is evolving, agricultural analysis continues to be extremely related in addressing the challenges confronting farmers, together with low productiveness, post-harvest loss, and so forth. There may be, due to this fact, the necessity to develop extra excessive worth varieties of assorted agricultural commodities, for example. To extend agriculture progress, what’s basically required is to extend productiveness and the effectivity of the agricultural analysis system.
What ought to the federal government do to enhance the standard of the analysis system, improve the accountability of the researchers and reward them primarily based on efficiency?
We’d like improved collaboration and coordination amongst agricultural analysis outfits within the nation; objective and goal setting for every institute; efficient monitoring and analysis framework/technique; and satisfactory funding. Furthermore, the theme of agricultural analysis growth must be holistic alongside the nation’s aims of agricultural growth.
The share of agriculture in gross home product (GDP), nevertheless, has been declining as a result of progress of the economic and repair sectors. How can we reverse this?
The noticed low productiveness in smallholder farms is worrisome. As an illustration, in cereals the nation’s common productiveness is nearly two tonnes/hectare, which is much lower than the worldwide common. Low productiveness is the product of a variety of elements, together with low technical know-how, poor entry to improved agricultural enter, low or no farm mechanisation, restriction to rain fed agriculture, poor entry to funds, and so forth. To reverse this development, all arms should be on deck. First, the smallholder farmers should assist themselves by working collectively in formidable commodity-based teams. Furthermore, extension brokers have to be empowered to do their work. Smallholders, by means of their teams, must develop direct linkage with their off-takers. Loads of ingenuity (in type of enterprise providers) have to be integrated into numerous commodity worth chains to resolve the issues of poor entry to funds and mechanisation.
The processing sector lags considerably behind that of a number of different growing international locations, due to poor rural infrastructure characterised by low-quality feeder roads, the erratic availability of electrical energy, and an absence of cold-storage amenities. What blueprint would you advocate for the federal government?
I like to recommend the event of agricultural produce processing clusters for the precedence commodities in every native authorities space of the nation. Concerted effort must be made to make sure the availability of required infrastructure in all clusters to reinforce effectivity and sustainability.
Because the lifting of the lockdown, meals costs have risen dramatically. Why? What insurance policies or practices would you advocate to reverse this development?
Commodity value is a operate of a variety of elements, chief amongst which is the price of manufacturing and advertising. The current rise within the value of meals is probably not unconnected with the rise in value of enter, particularly, these imported; improve in value of transportation occasioned by improve in gasoline value; scarcity in provide of farm labour ensuing from the ban on transnational motion resulting from COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, seasonality impacts meals availability and costs in Nigeria.To reverse this development, the productiveness of the nation’s agricultural sector must considerably enhance in order that the manufacturing value might be unfold on bigger output; post-harvest loss must be decreased to the barest minimal; agricultural manufacturing must be an all-year exercise, not restricted by rain, and so forth.
What ought to the federal government do to incentivise agro meals processing?
Steady energy provide, tax discount, enforcement of high quality requirements, ban or tariff improve on the importation of comparable processed meals merchandise.
Why do we want meals parks?
We’d like meals parks to facilitate linkage between producers, processors and entrepreneurs. It will assist cut back post-harvest loss, improve actors’ earnings, create extra employment alternatives, contribute considerably to nationwide meals and vitamin safety, amongst different issues.
The dairy and animal husbandry sector can develop and prosper provided that it is ready to improve farmers’ earnings and prosperity. How can we make dairy a supply of farmer prosperity on this sector?
The journey to a affluent dairy trade begins with the institution of efficient linkages between smallholder producers and the market. This affords the producers precious info on market necessities (e.g. high quality, dealing with, breed, and so forth.). As soon as the hyperlink is initiated, strict adherence to pre-set phrases and circumstances by events will guarantee sustainable prosperity for all actors alongside the chain. Furthermore, we have to inculcate into the smallholders the tradition of enterprise (away from subsistence manufacturing which they’re used to).
What’s your view on the sustainability of aquaculture and fisheries sooner or later?
It may solely be sustainable if the sub-sector is run on the idea of agricultural commodity worth chain, which requires that the primary actors alongside the chain are effectively built-in with one another.
What’s the potential of Micro Irrigation (MI) in Nigeria?
Micro irrigation will considerably improve productiveness in crop manufacturing in Nigeria. It will function insurance coverage in opposition to sudden drought; and make all-year spherical crop manufacturing potential. Farmers practising micro irrigation can even earn greater returns, particularly, throughout off season intervals.
What are the challenges related to implementing MI throughout Nigeria?
It’s capital intensive, however we are going to ultimately obtain a lot by beginning and going a step at a time. With willpower, it may be achieved.
What’s the way forward for irrigation programs?
Irrigation is the way forward for world meals manufacturing. It assures greater productiveness and all year-round availability of meals. We should start to plan to noticeably put money into irrigation amenities.
What are the challenges of the meals processing phase?
Energy provide, availability of high quality uncooked supplies, adherence to high quality requirements, competitors with imported merchandise, and so forth.
How has improved seeds sown the success of agriculture?
Productiveness begins with sowing high quality and improved seeds.The higher the seed trade, the higher the agricultural sector of the nation.
The place does the seed trade stand when it comes to innovation?
Loads of work is being achieved by breeders and different consultants within the seed trade. As we speak, we have now crops which might be bio-fortified with important micro-nutrients, high-yielding varieties, and so forth. All of those are the end result of the revolutionary and assiduous work consultants within the seed trade are doing.
What are your ideas on genetically modified (GM) expertise in crops? Is it beneficial for our agricultural growth?
Whereas GM expertise helps to enhance agricultural productiveness, I’ll somewhat watch for our well being and biosafety consultants to certify that GMOs are sustainably protected for human consumption earlier than I approve of its consumption.
What ideas would you wish to current the federal government for bettering farmers’ situation?
Facilitate the event of the worth chain of precedence commodities. Encourage cluster meals manufacturing and processing. Provision of fundamental facilities/infrastructure e.g. feeder roads, irrigation amenities, energy, and so forth. and entry to farm machines within the clusters. Provision of comparatively low-cost funds, and so forth.
What scope of progress do you see for the tractor trade?
Productiveness improves with mechanisation. To enhance our meals safety standing as a nation, the tractor trade should develop.