• Friday, July 19, 2024
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Knowledge gap clog to agribusiness growth in Nigeria -Experts

Nigeria’s agricultural imperative: Need for a consolidated policy framework (Part 1)

Experts in the agricultural sector have said that farmers’ inability to boost productivity and produce wholesome foods is owing to a knowledge gap.

Ikechukwu Kelikume, director of agribusiness at the Lagos Business School, speaking on the topic, “Enhancing Export Readiness: Quality, Standards, and Compliance at the BusinessDay Agrex conference panelists discussion said Nigeria must have to go back to its education curriculum to rewrite the country’s agric story.

“Many of us don’t understand the sector even as farmers. Hence, we need to go back to the basis, back to the classroom.

“The challenge of enhancing export Readiness in agric sector is all about knowledge and information gap in doing the business,” he said.

He maintained that those in the mainstream value chain and those who are not interested in being farmers but want to invest in farming need to acquire the knowledge that will take them to the next level of business success.

He reiterated that the agriculture business is more of a scientific venture that requires an understanding of the intricacies involved to compete at the global level.

Similarly, Annabel Kamuche, a legal practitioner and managing director at First Heritage Global Investment Limited revealed that there is a huge knowledge gap as it concerns standardisation in agric-business.

Kamuche said, “We don’t have standards, some people still use pesticides that have been banned in Europe and America in Nigeria and even those that use regulated pesticides don’t use it right. A farmer, where he’s supposed to use one litre of pesticide, may go ahead to use two in an unguided attempt to save his crops.”

She mentioned that some of the countries Nigeria exports to have complained of pesticide usage, condemning high levels of carcinogenic deposits in food items.

“We have seen a lot of issues with pesticides residue in our beans and Japan also has raised similar concerns with sesame seeds,” she said

Kamuche urged the government to enact regulations to help standardize farm produce in the country.

“Standardisation of local production like Ghana did is key to helping farmers compete at the global level. It has to be a conscious effort for anyone going into export,” she noted.

She maintained that the government policy could be in the form of a waiver for agricultural equipment to enable farmers to have access to the needed equipment to excel in the sector.

The Agrex 2023 conference is the initiative of BusinessDay Media Ltd. The event is designed to bring industry stakeholders together to discuss and brainstorm current agricultural export concerns and learn winning strategies in agric-business.

Folorusho Olayemi emphasised the need to teach and educate farmers on the use of pesticides.

“There’s a need to educate our farmers on how to use these chemicals because they sometimes overuse them, to also educate them on the dangers inherent in the use of these chemicals,” he said.

He mentioned that the reason Nigeria is still placed on the EU restriction list is because a lot of our foods are still substandard.

He mentioned that the majority of chemicals used in Nigeria have been banned in other countries more than 22 years ago.

“For us to reduce the level of chemical composition in our food, we must implement the ban of these chemicals and look for their sources in the country. We should also ban chemicals that have been banned by the FAO,” he said.

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Also, Akin Sawyer, Cofounder Agricultural Fresh Produce & Exporters Association of Nigeria spoke of the need for the creation of Agric co-operatives that can produce services in the agricultural space.

“We need co-operatives that can produce 24/7, 365 days services in the agricultural space.

“A team of internationally trained farm management specialists, these co-operatives should provide mobile farm intervention unit services on demand at farm locations,” he said.

He mentioned that agricultural cooperatives can provide services like farm management services, farm management contracts, farm set-up services, and produce evacuation services.