Revamping agriculture through strategic education collaborations, By Rahma Oladosu

0

The essence of the deal is for Nigerian institutions like TETFund to be able to send young students to Brazil to study how it was able to use agriculture to drive it’s economy into the stage it is at the moment. TETFund is currently sponsoring about 120 scholars who are running their Already Masters and PhD programs in Brazil with the sole objective of under-studying their Agricultural Revolution Policy and its impact on the national economy.

Before the discovery of crude oil and gas in commercial quantities in the country, agriculture was the mainstay of the Nigerian economy. The sector was a resilient sustainer of the people in terms of food supply, employment and national income generation. This was possible as a result of focused region-based policies, alongside the comparative advantages bestowed by the different produces.

However, the sector has struggled to live up to expectations since the 1980s, due to policy neglect, economic distraction and the indiscretion of successive Nigerian governments.

The “oil boom” experienced in Nigeria in the 1970s heralded an era of decay and decline in agricultural output and the overall contribution of the sector to the economy. The oil boom changed Nigeria’s perception of the place and role of agriculture in national development.

A strong, efficient and productive agricultural sector has the capacity to enable a country feed its growing population, export and earn foreign exchange, generate employment and provide raw materials for industries. The agricultural sector has the potential to be the industrial and economic platforms from which the speedy development of a country would take off.

Through agriculture, environmental benefits such as sustainable management and renewal of natural resources, preservation of biodiversity, land conservation, as well as contribution to the development and viability of rural areas can be derived. At micro and macro levels, the agricultural sector is strategically positioned to have a high multiplier effect on any nation’s quest for socio-economic and industrial development.

Looking back, the history of agriculture in Nigeria dates far back to the pre-colonial era. Subsistence agriculture was overwhelmingly dominant on the eve of British colonial rule in Nigeria. In this enterprise, food production featured prominently and there was self-sufficiency in food supply. With the country’s vast agricultural resources and large expanse of arable land and well distributed rainfall and a warm temperature all year round, agriculture played a progressive role in serving as the major source of livelihood of the country’s population.

As we mostly know, agriculture is broadly divided into four sectors in Nigeria – crop production, fishing, livestock and forestry. Crop production remains the largest segment and it accounts for about 87.6 per cent of the sector’s total output. This is followed by livestock, fishing and forestry at 8.1 per cent, 3.2 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively. Agriculture remains the largest sector in Nigeria, contributing an average of 24 per cent to the nation’s GDP over seven years (2013 – 2019). In addition, the sector employs more than 36 per cent of the country’s labor force, a feat which ranks the sector as the largest employer of labor in Nigeria.

Nigeria stands to benefit a lot from this collaboration, considering the advantage of similarities the two countries have in climate, ecology, and types of crops, which means that whatever grows in Brazil will also grow in Nigeria.

In recent times, the sector has been having a whole lot of challenges, especially lack of access to finance. To mitigate this, the Federal Government provided several facilities through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) such as the Anchor Borrower’s Programme, which helps provide small scale farmers with adequate financing. This is however grossly inadequate.

TEXEM Advert

Outdated methods of agriculture, such as the use of hoes and cutlasses reduce efficiency, as these methods are costly and time consuming. Nigeria’s failure to adopt advanced mechanised systems has reduced the quality of its agricultural products. Violent conflicts due to desertification and water depletion in the Northern part of Nigeria is a big problem. Nomadic herdsmen are now shifting towards the Southern part of the country in search of grazing fields and water for their animals and this has resulted in clashes with crop farmers in the South, thereby causing food producing states to witness declines in production. Resource shortage is another big challenge because over the past years, Nigeria has dealt with very low yields per hectare due to shortages in the supply of inputs, such as seedlings and fertilisers, as well as inadequate irrigation and harvesting systems, which hinders productivity and yield rates. And lastly, with a population of roughly 200 million people, Nigeria’s agricultural productivity is insufficient to meet the food demands of its growing populations, thus increasing the demand and supply gap in Nigeria.

As part of efforts to reverse this trend and cause a transformation in the nation’s agricultural sector, the Federal Government, through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), recently struck a partnership deal with Brazil and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) .

This deal was sealed at the First Agricultural Research and Innovation Fellowship for Africa (ARIFA) symposium, held at Federal University of Viçosa, Brazil, with the theme, “Pedagogic Retooling Strategy for Africa’s Agricultural Research and Innovation System: Lessons from Brazil.”

The essence of the deal is for Nigerian institutions like TETFund to be able to send young students to Brazil to study how it was able to use agriculture to drive it’s economy into the stage it is at the moment. TETFund is currently sponsoring about 120 scholars who are running their Already Masters and PhD programs in Brazil with the sole objective of under-studying their Agricultural Revolution Policy and its impact on the national economy. This latest agreement would therefore empower TETFund to be able to do more of this.

Nigeria stands to benefit a lot from this collaboration, considering the advantage of similarities the two countries have in climate, ecology, and types of crops, which means that whatever grows in Brazil will also grow in Nigeria.

Rahma Oladosu writes from Wuye District, Abuja.


Support PREMIUM TIMES’ journalism of integrity and credibility

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.

Donate


TEXT AD: Call Willie – +2348098788999






PT Mag Campaign AD

Share.

Comments are closed.