• Friday, April 12, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigeria’s N266bn agric research spend fails to improve farm yields

NiMet advises Nigerian Farmers to prepare for diverse weather conditions

The N266 billion spent by the federal government on agricultural research institutes in the last five years may have failed to improve farmers’ output as low yield per hectare of most food and cash crops persists, BusinessDay findings have shown.

Data obtained from the budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector shows that an average of 53.2 billion has been allocated to research institutes yearly in the last five years.

Yet, there is no direct input in agricultural production, as many farmers are still struggling with seed inefficiency and low yield.

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Farmers and analysts who spoke to BusinessDay attributed the lack of results from the research institutes to corruption, inadequate funding, poor government policies, and lack of proper distribution chain from the research institutes to farmers.

Abiodun Olorundero, managing partners at Prasinos Farms, said that the inability of the research institutes to develop technologies to boost farmers’ productivity was a result of systemic failure.

According to him, there are no set key performance indicators for the institutes to work with, which gives room for misappropriation of funds. “Lack of proper monitoring has created corruption in the system,” Olorundero said.

In a bid to tackle food insecurity, and improve food production, the federal government created several agric research institutes mandated for specific crops to help in the production of quality seeds and improve technologies to boost farmers’ productivity and improve the lives of rural communities.

But most of the institutes are redundant with obsolete equipment. Some have suffered leadership tussles for several years.

“Nothing is happening in most agric research institutes in the country. I visited the Cocoa Research Institute for bitter kola seedlings and was told it wasn’t available,” Ayopo Somefun, a bitter kola farmer in Ogun State, said in an interview with BusinessDay last year. “If the research institute mandated for the crop does not have the improved seedlings, where do you then get it?”

“I had to travel to Burkina Faso to get improved bitter kola seedlings for my farm as I couldn’t find any in the country,” he said, saying other farmers will resort to plating grains instead since improved seed varieties aren’t available.

He noted that if the government is serious about its food security and price stabilisation quest, then it must ensure that research institutes are adequately funded and monitored to boost farmers productivity.

The research institutes have blamed their inability to improve farmers’ output on failed government policies that do not allow effective translation of what researchers are doing to improve food production.

Tajudeen Ibrahim, director of research and strategy at Lagos-based investment bank Chapel Hill Denham, said the inadequacy of funds facing the research institutes is a huge factor affecting the agric sector.

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He said the federal government was not fully implementing the policy recommendations of researchers.

Ibrahim Kabir, national president of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, told BusinessDay: “The real question is why the results of researchers are not getting to farmers. That is what we should be addressing.”

Matthew Aluko, sub-dean of the faculty of agricultural science at the Ekiti State University, said the government should channel resources to the right places.