• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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‘Innovation in agric sector imperative in modern practice’

Experts are canvassing for improved technology and innovation in the agricultural sector to boost farmers’ productivity. The experts have identified low technology and innovation as the biggest challenges farmers in the country face.

They noted that the low yield affects farmers’ cultivation areas and their ability to perform timely operations.

“We must be innovative in our design, implementation and execution of agricultura programs, projects and activities in agriculture now,” Ike Ubaka, president, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) revealed.

“How do we even track the progress we make? How much do we devote to research on this? These are issues that need to be factored in at the moment,’’ said Ubaka.

Abiodun Olorundero, CEO of Green Vine Farms, said what may mitigate further progress made so far in the agriculture sector is lack of technology.

“Lack of technology and innovation remains one of the reasons why we still have a shortfall in production. Technology is very crucial if Nigeria really wants to boost agric productivity.

‘’Government must key into agriculture using technology to attract the youth,’’ Olorundero said.

Nigeria is listed among the least countries in the world with mechanised farming. The rate of the use of agricultural machinery is still below that which is considered necessary to meet the rising demand for food, as stipulated by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Available statistics show that Nigeria is one of the least mechanised farming countries in the world with the country’s tractor density put at 0.27 hp/ hectare which is far below the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FA O) ’s 1.5hp/hectare recommended tractor density for Africa and other developing countries.

When measured on mechanisation scale in 2003, 12 years ago, Nigeria had only 30,000 tractors and currently adding 1,000 new ones each year, which is still not considered sufficient in replacing the ones that are aging, broken down and worn out.

Afioluwa Mogaji, CEO, X-ray Farms Limited said, “It is time the government takes the issue of mechanisation very seriously. Farmers cannot boost productivity without a high level of mechanisation.”

The experts urged the government to provide Special Agric Mechanisation Intervention Fund (SAMIF), which should be domiciled in deposit money banks to provide matching funds to give loans at single digit interest rate for mechanisation.

They also call on the government to create an environment that is conducive for farm machinery manufacturers, to establish assembly plant and also provide special funds to agricultural institutions to undertake research and development for local manufacture of agricultural machinery and implements.

“Government must in the interim partner with at least 2 reputable tractor manufacturers to establish Complete Knocked Down (CKD) assembly plants, but in the long-term encourage the design and manufacture of indigenous products, tractors; implement the use of local tractors and other equipment,” Yakubu said.