Agricultural experts have emphasised the need to embrace innovation and effective partnership in solving the various challenges facing the sector since the advent of oil exploration by the nation.
These, they believe would help the nation add value across the various value chain of the sector and reduce the nation dependence on importation of primary goods.
This was the view of speakers at the annual agricultural summit organised by the Nigeria Association of Agricultural Journalist (NAAJ) with the theme, “Bridging the Investment Gap in Agriculture Through Information,” held in Lagos recently.
Speaking at the event, the Acting Director-General, Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), Dr. Chima Igwe, highlighted ways the sector could contribute to the economy.
“Foreign exchange earnings through exportation of agricultural products including hides and skins, source of livelihood and economic stability to millions of resource poor farmers in Nigeria, source of income and employment for many Nigerians engaged in production, processing and marketing of agricultural produce and products,” he said.
He noted this could only be achieved through life-long learning in the application of satellite data and computing technology for farming and agriculture, input market linkage, vegetation monitoring, farm weather forecast, land use classification and market information.
Mr. Olushina Shobande, who represented the Commissioner of Agriculture, Gbolahun Lawal, reiterated the needs for youths to embrace disruptive technologies in solving the nation’s agricultural challenges.
“The state is not in support of any project that is not environmentally friendly, so therefore Nigerians youths should engage on smart Agriculture especially on the upstream and downstream value chain of the sector,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Lagos Chapter and Chairman, Potato Farmers Association of Nigeria (POFAN), Segun Adeyeye, said Research and Development (R&D) was necessary if food sovereignty status is to be protected.
Representing the private sector, the CEO, Elephant Group, Mr. Tunji Owoeye, said, “since January 12 to 13 rice integrated factories has jumped to 60 and several activities have picked up along processing, packaging, insurance, marketing, financing and most importers now reinvesting into rice farming.”
On his part the president of the NAAJ, Mr. Emmanuel Ogbonnaya, said for the sector to realise its potential, communicating agriculture must be seen as a major priority by all sector in the public and private sectors.
According to him, reporting on agriculture should also not be restricted to natural disasters, food shortages and rising food prices only. Agricultural journalists have the potential of being change agents and partners in progress if carried effectively along by major stakeholders,” he said.