Don advocates scaling-up of agriculture for national development
Odedina who made the call while delivering the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) Alumni 21st Convention and 20th Annual Lecture series titled: “Agricultural and National Development, Scaling Agricultural Solutions for Sustainable National Development,” said 70 per cent of the populace engage in agricultural production at subsistence level.
According to him, the agric sector is one of the most important sectors in the country as it employs around 70 per cent of the labour force.
He stated that the advent of petroleum boom in the early 1970’s caused the neglect of agriculture. While analyzing reasons why food security is not achieved, Odedina pointed out that government did not play supportive role and individuals see agriculture as “our culture rather than seeing it as a business.”
Odedina said lack of mechanised equipment, poor level of agricultural education, limited or zero access to credit facilities, import supply and linkage and high volume of agricultural imports, among others are some of the problems facing development in the country.
The guest lecturer said if attention is paid to agriculture by the government and individuals, the sector could generate wealth and employment, reduce poverty, and improve food security.
He advised on the creation of modern agricultural education programme for farmers; farm mechanization and hands-on training; rehabilitation and upgrade of research and training facilities in Colleges, Polytechnics, Universities, Research Institutes and Vocational Centres.
Other solutions listed are, farming friendly government policies; incentives for Nigerian youths for more engagement in agriculture through entrepreneurship education and credit facilities for start-ups; farming friendly government projects such as solar/wind projects/irrigation projects; highly developed and less-rigorous system for credit facilities and input supply to farmers and import solution.
His examples of scaling up the sector include government support in the area of providing multilateral finance assistance from global institutions for agricultural development, Federal Government funded agricultural programmes, such as the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), Green Alternative Programme (GAP); Non-Governmental Organisation’s support; Special Privately/Internationally Funded Projects such as CAVA, CIAT/HarvestPlus.
Odedina equally noted that the future scaling up in agric solutions lies in business opportunities in stem and root production, garri and fufu production, food and hospitality sector, among others.
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