Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Agriculture Senator Heineken Lokpobiri on Monday tasked farmers in Nigeria to embraced modern farming systems in order for the country to attain self-sufficiency in food production
The minister stated this when he received 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 regretted that gap in domestic food production have existed in Nigeria for many years because the nation depended on rural farmers and their rural farming methods for its food needs.
The minister expressed delight that Federal Government has recently embark on efforts to redress the situation through policies and infrastructural development of the rural communities of the country. “The only way we can feed ourselves is for us to develop our capacity, embrace modern farming technology and technics so that we will continue to enjoy high productivity, not the subsistent farming we are used to” Lokpobiri said
He also stressed the need for the development of the nation’s rural areas to stem urban migration and noted that if urban migration is halted, it would reduce poverty and crime, as well as limit the pressure on the amenities in the urban areas currently being experienced in the country.
According to him, the only difference between the agricultural system in Africa and those of the advanced economies of the world is the use and deployment of technologically advanced equipment by the later.
“Nigeria is a country where we are basically being fed by the rural dwellers,” noting that, “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”
“Land to farm is in the rural areas and 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” Lokpobiri added
He drawn comparism between the Nigeria climate and that of the Latin American countries, which he noted are basically the same, the minister regretted that, “Because sometimes we don’t want to be relevant in technics, the yield over there could be 20 tons while here it could be 2 tons. This is basically because of the way we plan and the way we manage our cropping system.” He said
In his remarks, Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr. Burka Hassan noted that Nigeria is at the verge of transiting from subsistent agriculture to sustainable agro economy.
According to him, Nigeria is currently striving to diversify from oil-based based economy to an agric-based one through emphasis on technology and modernization of farming.
Secretary General of AARDO, pledged his organisation’s commitment to collaborating with the nation’s rural farmers to grow the sector because of Nigeria’s strategic position in Africa and the West African region.
“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 the 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” He said
According to Sreihin, “In 2007, we financed one project in Nigeria. In 2006, we signed an MoU with the Agriculture and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI) , Ilorin for collaboration and assistance for international training programmes were organised and I am here to revive the MoU for the benefit of our members.”