Nigeria must fund agric institutes to increase farm yields
Despite growing concerns over food security and a food import bill of $5 billion annually, Nigeria has failed to make appreciable efforts in increasing its farm yields. Africa’s most populous nation still records the lowest yields per hectare amongst peers.
Stakeholders attribute the persistent low yield per hectare recorded by farmers to poor funding and total neglect of various research institutions by the Federal Government.
Nigeria has the highest agricultural research system in Africa, with more than 80 government and high education institutes and over 2,000 researchers. However, poor funding still limits the institutes from reaching their points of critical need as they have failed to provide technologies that will improve farmers’ yield per hectare.
Data obtained from the budgetary allocation to the agric ministry shows that the research institutions got an average of N28 billion ($70 million) yearly in the last four years.
By contrast, India spends $2 billion yearly on its agric research institutes; Brazil and China, respectively, spend $1 billion yearly and $700 million yearly for the same purpose.
A 2015 ActionAid report shows that Nigeria invests only $0.42 into agric research for every $100 of agric output, compared to $0.94 and $1.40 in Ghana and Uganda, respectively.
Owing to this low yield per hectare, Nigeria now records huge demand-supply gaps in most of its staple foods, even as the population growth rate stands at 2.6 percent per annum, with the country projected to surpass the 300-million-people mark by 2050, according to The World Population Prospects 2017.
There is the need for government to address this issue if it wants agriculture to play a leading role in the diversification of the country’s economy and revenue sources.
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