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Nigeria’s agric sector handicapped by low technology

Low scale technology use, ineffective credit model, and lack of competitiveness in the agricultural sector among others have hampered the country’s quest to fast-track economic diversification through the sector.

Experts in the agricultural sector say that innovation and improved technology which is vital in boosting farmers’ productivity and attain food sufficiency are lacking in most farms across the country.

The experts have identified low technology and innovation as the biggest challenges limiting farmers’ productivity in the country.

They noted that the low use of technology and lack of innovation in the sector has continued to affect farmers’ cultivation areas and their ability to perform timely operations.

“We must be innovative in our design, implementation, and execution of agricultural programs, projects, and activities in agriculture now because it is technology that drives today’s agric,” AfricanFarmer Mogaji, chief executive officer, X-Ray Farms revealed.

“If we must feed ourselves and drive economic growth then it is time the government takes the issue of technology and innovation serious in the agric sector,” Mogaji said.

Globally, innovation and technology are positively impacting crop production as farmers deploy farm machines, tractors, and drones to aid farming as well as Artificial Intelligence.

But Nigeria is grossly lacking in the adoption of mechanisation and tractors.

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 (FAO)’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.

Abiodun Olorundero, managing director, AquaShoots Limited, 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. The government must key into agriculture using technology to attract the youth,” Olorundero said.

Similarly, farmers have continued to record scanty yields, as opposed to their counterparts in developed countries who make use of advanced farming machines.

The use of hoes, cutlasses, and in some cases- tool- mounting animals is responsible for poor agric output in the country, thus making agriculture laborious and giving farmers scanty yields and poverty.

“Currently, more than 70 percent of farm labour is provided by human power; over 20 percent is provided with draft animal power and less than 10 percent by mechanical power,” Elesa Yakubu, national president, Tractor Owners and Operators Association of Nigeria (TOOAN), told BusinessDay.

Yakubu called on the government to create an environment that is conducive for farm machinery manufacturers, to establish assembly plants 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.

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