Samson Odedina the rector of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, has called on the government to scale up agricultural solutions and practices to enhance national development in the country.
Odedina made this call while delivering the FUNAAB alumni 21st convention and 20th annual lecture series titled ‘Agricultural and National Development, Scaling Agricultural Solutions for Sustainable National Development’, a statement made available to BusinessDay states.
According to him, about 70 percent of the Nigerian population is engaged in agricultural production at subsistence level. He further stated that the sector is one of the most important sectors in the country as it accounts for more than half of Nigeria’s labour force.
While critically analysing the reasons why there is currently food insecurity in Nigeria, Odedina pointed out that lack of government supporting role and the inability of individuals to see agriculture as our business has continued to production.
Odedina said that the lack of mechanised equipment, poor farmer education, lack of credit facilities, and poor linkage, as well as high volume of agricultural imports among others, are the factors limiting the sector.
He observed that if adequate attention is given to the sector by the government in the areas of infrastructure and credit, agriculture can create wealth and employment, reduce poverty, and increase food security, among others.
He enumerated solutions to the problems facing agriculture in Nigeria to include creating modern agricultural education programme for farmers, use of technology, rehabilitation and upgrade of research and training facilities in colleges, polytechnics, universities, research institutes and vocational centres.
He listed other solutions as including, farming friendly government policies, incentives for youths for more engagement in the sector through entrepreneurship education and provision of credit facilities for start-ups, farming friendly government projects such as solar/wind projects/irrigation projects, and input supply to farmers.
He also listed examples of scaling up required to provide needed solutions to include government support in the area of providing multilateral finance assistance from global institutions for agricultural development, funding of agricultural programmes, such as the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), Green Alternative Programme (GAP); Non-Governmental Organisation’s support; Special Privately/Internationally Funded Projects such as CAVA, CIAT/Harvest Plus.
Others are, through advocacy; youth engagement; students industrial work experience, innovation, entrepreneurship and empowerment programmes such as specialised borrowers programmes, corporate entrepreneurship programmes and reality TV programmes.