In a bid to enhance Nigeria’s race towards self-sufficiency in agricultural production, critical players in the agricultural space converged between July 30th and 31st at the Sheraton Hotels and Towers, Abuja to deliberate on mechanisms for improved productivity in the sector, particularly in light of Nigeria’s frontline role in the African food security equation.
The overarching objective of the two-day summit which was hosted by AgroNigeria under the theme; “Consolidating the Growth” was for stakeholders to track and enhance Nigeria’s self-sufficiency agenda, appraise advancements so far recorded, while beaming a searchlight on frameworks for sustainability.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of AgroNigeria, Mr. Richard-Mark Mbaram, the Feed Nigeria Summit is the country’s most impactful agricultural assembly for strategic engagements between stakeholders in the space. In his words; “The Feed Nigeria Summit provides a unique platform for sectoral players to track and enhance Nigeria’s race towards self-sufficiency in agricultural production”.
Speaking further, Mr. Mbaram stated that in its 2017 edition, the Feed Nigeria Summit focused centrally on the Federal Government’s National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP) with the aim of connecting it with the farm gate.
“The rationale for this learning hinged on the need to make the programme a catalyst for increased agricultural productivity and larger economic revamp, particularly at a time when Nigeria was coping with recession,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, the President of the African Development Bank; Dr. Akinwumi Adesina who was represented by the Director, Agriculture and Agro-Industry; Dr Martins Fregene, made the point that it is only through innovations in technology, institutions, finance and markets that Nigeria can strive to compete globally in the agricultural sector.
“Nigeria has made progress in Maize production from varieties that are resistant to diseases. The country currently produces anually, seven million tons of maize out of the eight million tons it requires”, he stated.
To continuously boost productivity in the sector however, the AfDB president urged policymakers to provide new crop and livestock varieties to farmers, evolve a new approach to soil fertility management, encourage institutional investors to invest in agriculture, improve on financing and ensure titles for lands earmarked for agricultural purposes.
In the same vein, Africa Director, International Centre For Tropical Agriculture (CIAT); Dr. Adebisi Araba in his keynote presentation underscored that in order that Nigeria can be taken out of poverty, the nation must see to the reform of the sector, by placing the private sector in the driver’s seat.
According to him, a large population does not translate to a large market, but a population with the ability to live above poverty with high purchasing powers.
The Managing Director of Notore Seeds, Ms Ivana Osagie, during a plenary session also noted that the Nigerian agricultural space needs an unbroken value chain system that guarantees production and sales. She also stated that Notore is willing to bridge fertilizer gaps across the country.
On reducing post-harvest losses across the country, Prof Daniel Adedzwa, of Benue State University, Makurdi was of the view that Nigeria can avoid post-harvest losses if farmers are well trained on control mechanisms.