Journalism Communication and Media Centre, an NGO, on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to introduce innovations to boost food production in the country.
Founder of the organization, Mr. Obinna Chukwueze, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on phone in Abuja that agriculture in Nigeria needs improvement to boost production and economy.
Chukwueze said there is a need for the introduction of new varieties of crops and breeds, digital extension services (e-extension), and increased funding for agribusiness.
He said there is a need to subsidise farm inputs to boost food production.
According to Chukwueze, new varieties of crops and breeds mature early.
“For instance, new varieties of sorghum take 100 days to mature.
“So, when they mature early, you can run two planting cycles or three in a year and make more money than the old varieties that take long.
“For local chicken, the traditional breed takes about nine months to mature but for the new breed, within four months, they are already matured.
“Same in palm fruit, the old varieties take about 10 years while there are new varieties that take three years to mature and they make more yield,’’ he said.
Chukwueze said increased funding for agribusiness is important, noting that the world is moving from the era of agriculture to agribusiness.
“Government needs to expose young people to the value chain in agriculture to gain from its comparative advantage over white-collar jobs.
“There are jobs in the value chain. Young people can become actors and drive the process and that is what is obtainable in developed countries.
“These are innovations that are coming in to make sure that young people are involved
“The government needs to release more funds because people need money to get into agribusiness.
“Government must make deliberate efforts to designate more funds for agribusiness to thrive in the country. We are moving from agriculture to agribusiness.
“Also, the government should subsidise farm inputs and invest so much in Good Agronomic Practices because many people who want to go into agriculture do not know how to do it,’’ he said.
Chukwueze also noted that there is dearth of extension workers in agriculture.
“Government used to have the extension system. In every local government in every state, we had extension workers who provide information to farmers.
“They are important intermediaries between agricultural research institutes and those who want to go into farming. Now, many of them are ageing and dying and not being replaced,’’ he said.
Chukwueze said that digital extension services are critical in providing timely assistance to farmers.
“For instance, if you are into broiler farming and you have mortality, in the next one hour can you call to know what caused your problem so that you will not have another mortality?
“Who do you run to in case of such mortality because those extension services are no longer close to farmers as it used to be?
“Government needs to set up e-response system so that people can get quick response.
“This e-extension is also good for marketing so that when people produce, they have to connect through e-extension to market,’’ he said.