Kabir Ibrahim, president of the Agriculture Farmers Association of Nigeria has called on farmers to embrace the use of biotechnology and mechanization as well other innovations in the agricultural sector to boost food production in the country.
Kabir stated this during a press conference in Abuja, ahead of the forthcoming ‘National Agricultural Show’.
According to Ibrahim, there is a need for Nigerian farmers to shore up food production to meet the demand of the nation’s rising population which is estimated by the United Nations to reach as high as 377 million by 2050.
“Food sufficiency is possible in Nigeria when we embrace some form of biotechnology, mechanization, and use science technology innovation.
“There are many misconceptions about genetically modified organisms (GMO) and I understand that there is no connection between GMOs and any disease. And I tell farmers that the best way out of poverty is through GMOs. Where a parcel of land produces 1 ton per hectare with biotechnology, you can produce up to 18 tons.
“If biotechnology is embraced by farmers, it will improve production optimally. Agriculture business is a private sector, the government is only expected to provide an enabling environment for them to thrive,” he said.
Speaking further Ibrahim stressed the need for the government to address the issue of insecurity in the country, stating that food security for Nigeria means contending with and stemming insecurity for farmers to produce optimally.
He noted that incessant attacks against farmers across the country have led to increased cases of market disruptions and loss of livelihoods.
This is as the ‘Save the Children International’ (SCI) report showed that armed groups killed more than 128 farmers and kidnapped 37 others across Nigeria between January and June 2023.
Speaking on the national agricultural show, Ibrahim said that it is a platform for farmers to showcase their products and sell to willing buyers.
He said, “We are almost ready for the show and as we know, there are only a few commercial farmers, the majority of foods we consume are produced by smallholder farmers and they need all the encouragement they can get at this time when everyone is grappling with food insufficiency.
“Food insufficiency in this sense means that people cannot readily afford food due to the purchasing power of the naira and other factors.
“We need to start producing for more than the 200 million population, at this stage, we should be producing food for 300 million people. The problem is this, food sufficiency is making the right kind of food available to everyone.
“To address this, we need to start producing food at a regional level. We need to look at the region and know what food is needed in that area and optimise the production of that food. That is the only way we can achieve food sufficiency.
“Also the idea of selling what we produce in their raw form will not take us anywhere. We must be able to process the foods and add value to them. We must be able to transport our farm produce seamlessly, we must be able to store what we produce and cut down on post-harvest losses.”
Speaking on producing foods for exports, Ibrahim urged farmers to embrace ‘good agricultural practice’. This according to him would help them produce wholesome food that will be acceptable for consumption across the world.
Noting that foods produced from Nigeria were being exported to other neighbouring countries for further export, Ibrahim decried the activities of corrupt security officers, aiding the rise in food smuggling both in and out of Nigeria.
“People smuggle goods in and out of the country, how are they doing it when we have customs officers in those locations, it is the customs officers that support illegal export. So our institutions do not want rk and we must do away with corruption,” he said.