…says facilities will boost farmers’ knowledge, productivity
…calls on FG to carry farmers along in policy formulation
By Gabriel Ewepu
AN Agribusiness firm, SWEER Global Farms, Thursday, hailed the Federal Government over commissioning of standard Soil Testing and Geographic Information System, GIS, Laboratories of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Abuja.
Speaking on the impact the laboratories would make in agribusiness, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, CEO, SWEER Global Farms, Dr Thaddaeus Thompson, said the laboratories are part of the agric revolution long overdue to galvanize food production and farm technology.
Thompson said the problem of low productivity among farmers as a result of low yields per hectare is traceable to lack of knowledge of soil testing, poor extension services, lack of access to right technology and farming techniques, over dependence on old system of farming, and other challenges.
He said: “We at SWEER Global Farms are really impressed with the recent commissioning of the standard Soil Testing and Geographic Information System, GIS, Laboratories of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Abuja, which made it the fourth of its kind.
“We see it as a major solution to farmers’ problems of low yield and productivity in food production because the soil is the nucleus of any agribusiness, and without proper understanding of the soil it could be counterproductive as far as productivity and profitability are concerned.
“We commend the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for this major boost for we farmers to get the right soil fertility as we put in our best to feed over 200 million mouths.
“We also want to appeal that these laboratories are replicated in the local government areas via extension services that could get to farmers easily because farming is basically at the rural areas, and the testing centres should be domiciled at the rural communities.
“Government can collaborate with the private sector and donors to set up such soil testing labs at that level.
“We as farmers should have this soil testing facilities closer to us, and also farmers need to be trained on simple techniques on how to understand the soil and its nutrients, suitable crops o be cultivated on it, yields per hectare, and how to prepare the soil for planting crops.
“This is where we really need services of agric extension workers at the federal, state and local government levels to train farmers on the best ways to test the soil and do the needful, and not to sit at the office.”
However, he called on the government to really focus on farmers’ sensitization and awareness creation by deploying trained agric extension officers to the field in order to pass the knowledge to farmers on soil fertility.
He also called on government at all levels to carry real farmers along in policy formulation, “The farmers should not be left out of policy formulation because they are the major stakeholders who are practically on the farms and know where the issues are and how possibly they can be tackled because they feel the impact of the farm environment.
“Most policies fail in the agric sector because of lack of farmers’ inclusion to contribute to the process.
“Some of these policies do not have comprehensive views and opinions from the farmers, hence make them lack sustainability and impact because farmers are not made to drive it but by those who are not practically in the farms.”
it would be recalled that the laboratories were commissioned by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, on Monday in Abuja, where he disclosed that the Ministry now has four national soil laboratories in Abuja, Kaduna, Ibadan and Umudike, each equipped with Mid-Infrared Spectrophotometer (MIR) for dry chemistry analytical procedures.
He added that the equipment has the capacity for analyzing large quantities of soil samples rapidly, and that the four laboratories will go a long way in expanding the nation’s soil testing capacity.