Don tasks farmers on agricultural management
A professor of agronomy, Dr. Chris Chinaka has called on farmers and other stakeholders in the sector to shift from putting more land under cultivation, to focusing on agricultural management and technological development in order to exploit crops to their full potentials.
Chimaka, who said this at the Commonwealth Universities Association of Researchers (CUAR) Open Day Agricultural Stakeholders Workshop and Exhibition, at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU), Abia State, noted that for the continent to realise the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the 21st century, agriculture and economic growth must take the front seat.
Speaking on the topic: “Research for Agriculture Development & Food Scarcity; Past, Present & The Way Forward,” he stated that while only a few countries are recording growth and agricultural production, some are recording increase in land area.
He said: “It is an irony that Nigeria, a vast agricultural country endowed with substantial materials and physical resources that include 70 million hectares (ha) of arable land covering 12 million ha, 900 kilometres of coastline and ecological diversity, which naturally enables the production of a wide range of crops, livestock, forestry and fishery products and not minding the overload of human resources, should find herself in the group of food deficient countries in Africa.”
The don cited the case of USA that records 8.9 per cent mt per ha for Maize and China 6.07 per cent mt, while Nigeria records a meager 1.01 per cent mt, stating that the current yield potential for cassava 45-50 mt per ha, yam 18-20 mt, coco yam 15-20 mt, sweet potato 25-30 mt and Irish potato 20-52 mt, could be tripled without increasing the land area cultivated.
The retired Zonal Director, Research and Extension Office, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, said both researchers and thereafter extension workers still have a lot of work to do to develop the sector.