Showing posts with label Security. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Security. Show all posts

Monday, July 22, 2013

Nigeria: Boosting Food Security Through Mechanisation, the Way Forward for Nigeria

The present administration has come up with the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) in a bid to earn foreign exchange from agriculture and make the nation self-sufficient in food production. But, with the continual drift of the young population of young Nigerians moving away from the rural areas to the urban in search of white collar jobs and away from the drudgery of manual farm labour, self sufficiency in food production is becoming a herculean task.

Seasonal shortage of food is becoming apparent as a result despite the fact that many labourers lack the incentive or tools to perform the high quality work needed to improve productivity. So, feeding the increasing population cannot be done with the cutlass and hoe or an agricultural system that relies on human muscles. In developed countries, mechanisation has taken over from the use of raw human power as is still the case in Nigeria.

The policy challenges of mechanisation, or lack of it, are of far reaching significance. The use of poorly-yielding varieties of planting materials even compound the problem further as crops yields across the nation have remained relatively stagnant and low over time, posing serious policy challenges that require urgent intervention. Agricultural mechanisation, embracing the use of tools, implements, and machines for a wide range of farm operations such as land preparation, planting, harvesting, on-farm processing among others, therefore becomes desirable.

There is an added dimension of soil, water and forest conservation practices that need to be built into the larger framework of environmental impact of agriculture, climate change and food security. The constraint posed by the prevailing land tenure system on mechanisation is such that agricultural lands in many parts of Nigeria are not easily made available for farming because of extant influences such as ownership structure and the stiff competition for estate development today, which is exerting dangerous influence on agriculture and the prospect of feeding the nation.

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) reckons that Nigeria is still at the early stage of agricultural mechanisation; even at that, it notes that the mechanisation of power-intensive operations has been slow. A significantly higher proportion of farming area is still cultivated by hand tools in Nigeria and West Africa compared to other developing countries

Statistics had it that, last year, a total of 3,012,360 ha of land was expected to be put under cultivation in the Nigeria with a tractor population of about 40,000 with a tractorisation density of 0.1 hp/ha. The tractorisation density of the country fell short of the recommended 1.5hp/ha by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). For Nigeria to be able to feed its growing population, therefore, there is a need for investment in mechanisation both on the part of the private and public sectors.