Mechanised Farming, Key to Nigeria’s Food Sufficiency, Says Minister

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From Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, has declared that Nigeria can only attain self-sufficiency in food production if the nation’s farmers embrace modern way of farming.

He made the declaration when he received a delegation from the Africa-Asia Rural Development Organisation (AARDO) led by Secretary General of the Organisation, Eng. Wassfi Hassan El Sreihinin, in Abuja.

Lokpobiri expressed regrets that gap in domestic food production had existed in Nigeria for many years because, the nation depended on rural farmers and their rural farming methods for its food needs.

“The only way we can feed ourselves is for us to develop our capacity, embrace modern farming technology and technics so that we will continue to enjoy high productivity, not the subsistent farming we are used to,” he said.

Lokpobiri however, expressed delight that recently, the Federal Government has been embarking on efforts to redress the situation through policies and infrastructural development of the rural communities of the country.

He noted that if urban migration was halted, it would reduce poverty and crime, as well as limit the pressure on the amenities in the urban areas currently being experienced in the country.

Lokpobiri remarked that, ”Nigeria is a country where we are basically being fed by the rural dwellers,” noting that, “If rural development is not given priority, and already studies have shown that there is urban migration because of lack of development in the rural areas, the cities would soon be over crowded.”

Continuing he said, “Land to farm is in the rural areas and if those people in the rural areas are empowered through capacity building, through technology transfer to be able to stay there and continue to cultivate, poverty would be reduced, there will be less crime, and there will be less pressure on the limited amenities that we find in the urban areas.

According to the minister, the only difference between the agricultural system in Africa and those of the advanced economies of the world is the use and deployment of technologically advanced equipment by the later.

Secretary General of AARDO, pledged his organisation’s commitment to collaborating with the nation’s rural farmers to grow the sector because of Nigeria’s strategic position in Africa and the West African region.

He said: “We assure you that we will offer our assistance to the country. This is my first official visit to Nigeria since I took over as the Sec Gen in 2011. As you know Nigeria is a very important country in this region and the world. Since then we have been collaborating and enhancing the lives of the rural people of Nigeria, neighbouring countries and members of the organisation.

He stressed that since Nigeria became a member of the organisation in 1999, it had benefited from AARDO’s technical support programme, including the human capacity building.

AARDO offers many hundreds of training programmes and fellowships every year in different countries in Asia and Africa which officials from Nigeria benefit from.

“In 2007, we financed one project in Nigeria. In 2006, we signed an MoU with the Agriculture and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI), Ilorin for collaboration and assistance for international training programmes and I am here to revive the MoU for the benefit of our members,” He said.