Successes were recorded in the areas of agriculture as a result of the Federal Government resolve to diversify the economy. Two noticeable areas were fertilizer initiative and the Anchor borrower’s programme. Under fertilizer initiative, many fertilizer companies are now established in the country, which made it easier for farmers to get the fertiliser at affordable price and without taking pain to travel to a long distance to buy it. This is really commendable. On anchor borrower’s programme, many farmers had benefited to the relatively soft loan from the Central Bank to finance their farming activities. This has also have helped a lot of farmers to cultivate a large acreage of land. However the Federal Government needs to do more to maintain the successes and also to further take agriculture to the next level.
The federal government, perhaps, through the State Governments should make sure that there is enough extension workers in the country. With the changing world in terms of technology, it is necessary for the farmer to be up to date in modern techniques of farming. Most of the villages now complain of lack of adequate extension personnel. Some might have spent many years without putting their eyes on any extension worker. This very discouraging for a country like ours that is trying to be self-sufficient in food production. The extension workers should be well trained and be given adequate transport system, which will enable them move from one farming community to another.
Secondly, the Federal Government should establish more irrigation schemes similar to that of Kadawa in Kano State. This will ensure cropping activities all the year round. With the rapid population increase in this country it is imperative to be producing both food and cash crop during the wet and dry seasons. There are many dams in Nigeria- Kano state alone boats of more than ten dams. Unfortunately most of these dams are underutilized.
Another important area that needs to be looked into is agricultural research. There are many research institutes in the country. However, they have not lived up to their expectation. One thing that the Federal Government needs to do is to split some of these research institutes. Just recently in one of the Minister of Agricultures’ retreat in Dutse, Jigawa State, the Emir of Dutse complained about the dilapidated nature and inactivity of the affiliate office of the National Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR). The affiliate office is supposed to take care of date palm research. But since the head office of NIFOR is in faraway Benin, not much attention is paid in date palm research. The research institutes should also be adequately staffed and well-funded
Lastly another area that The Federal Government needs to look into is regulation of chemicals (pesticides). There is no standard mechanism in this country that regulates the importation, production, sale and use of pesticides. This will ensure the acceptability of our farm produce. It will also ensure safety to our environment and population.
The above mentioned areas if well-tackled will help in meeting the target set by Federal Government in its resolve for an alternative source of revenue to the country. It will also meet the target set by UN in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Ahmed Inusa A, Department of Pest Mnangement Technology, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria