Nigeria Yet to Practice Agriculture Since Independence Says NAERLS Boss
The Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), Professor Emmanuel Ikani, has said that Nigeria is yet to practice the right form of agriculture that could guarantee its food security.
Ikani said that the federal government and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector had been promoting and practicing farming rather than agriculture since 1960 when Nigeria got independence till date.
He said: “From 1960 till date, we have never really done agriculture in the right sense of the word. What we have only been doing is farming. For one, the fact that over 70 per cent of our adult work force is engaged in agriculture is a sign that we are doing farming and not real agriculture, because it should not be more than 10 per cent of the adult population range that should be engaged in agriculture.
“If you take the statistics of the tools employed in our farming space, you’ll discover that over 80 per cent is made up of cutlasses and hoes despite the huge amount of money that has been expended in acquiring machinery like tractors, combined harvesters and other machines for logistics and processing from Europe and America. If you go to any part of this country where farming is done, the tools of our farmers are mostly cutlasses and hoes.”
He stated that agriculture “is about science. It is about technology, about skills, expertise and knowledge. Modern agriculture is knowledge driven. The actors in the field right now in Nigeria don’t have the skills and the knowledge and that is why they are still engaging with cutlasses and hoes.”
Ikani noted that it would take mechanisation to fix Nigeria’s agriculture.
“When I am talking about mechanisation, I am not talking about going to Europe or America to import combined harvesters, tractors and other heavy machinery. The actors in the field are not skillful. They cannot manage such equipment which makes farm machinery end up being abandoned and lying waste across the states.
“It has happened before during the days of our Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), as generally known, many combined harvesters and other machineries were abandoned because the farmers didn’t have the skill to use and maintain them,” he said.