“As we search for a less extractive and polluting economic order, so that we may fit agriculture into the economy of a sustainable culture, community becomes the locus and metaphor for both agriculture and culture.” ― Wes Jackson, Becoming Native to This Place
By Olasupo OJO
The prevailing economic situation in Nigeria has prompted the need for a diversification to ameliorate the economic challenges hitting the country in the face. Oil prices have dropped drastically, the Naira was depreciating at an alarming rate until recently, and the prices of commodities have risen.
Agriculture has become the talk on everyone’s mouth, a means to liberate and sustain the economy. Needless to say, that many have forgotten that the 60’s – early 80’s are far from different from the 21st century that we find ourselves. The era when the population was barely 45 million, employment rate was high, the economy was stable and agriculture was a joyous occupation. But the “oil boom” came along and agriculture was long gone. Paying less attention to agriculture resulted in a decline in policy support and public funding for agriculture, strong decline in domestic production and rising level of dependence on agricultural imports. Now, population has grown to over 180 million, oil is losing its value and the naira’s value is dwindling. Isn’t it time to go back to the 60’s? A resounding ‘yes’.
The truth is that agriculture can take us back to where we were. Little wonder then that the government is doing everything within its reach to resuscitate this sector of the economy. The role of the public and private sectors in agriculture, the farmers, youths and women, donor organizations, research institutes, health care organizations and other organizations or agencies that play a role in the agriculture value chain can’t be overemphasized. But, it is noteworthy that just like science and technology have played their roles in our lives in this century, they are also a backbone to achieving the long-term goal of sustaining the agricultural sector of the economy.
Technology is shaping the world, improving lives, making things easy and transforming the continent. In the world of agriculture too, a lot is being done to improve seeds and increase production. This will also help in restoring increased production of food in Nigeria.
Here are some technological inventions that will definitely improve the agricultural sector of the economy:
The 60’s are far gone, the era of farmers using crude farm implements like hoe, sickles and cutlasses. Painfully, many farmers still use these tools in their farming operations, the effect? Low supply of farm products, poor efficiency and sustenance of products. Mechanized form of farming involves the use advanced technological machines, tools and techniques in rearing plants animals, this will:
- reduce energy exerted in the agricultural process
- improve productivity
- improve life span
- regular supply of farm produce
- enhance economic growth
Nigeria faces a lot of challenges in this area. For example, the land use decree (1978) makes acquisition of land difficult in a way making it difficult for peasant farmers to acquire sufficient land mass to practice mechanized farming. Unavailability of infrastructural facilities like good road network, communication facilities and transport system. Illiteracy among farmers and sufficient funding.
The use of tractors, boom sprayers, ploughing machines and pumps are mechanized tools that will help reshape the agriculture sector and help farmers. A revision of the land use decree of 1978 will help farmers acquire more acres of land to practice this form of farming.
Simply put, agricultural biotechnology is the manipulation of crops and animals or their parts for the production of value added goods and services for man’s use. It is being used to address problems in all areas of agricultural production and processing. This includes plant breeding to raise and stabilize yields; to improve resistance to pests, diseases and abiotic stresses such as drought and cold; and to enhance the nutritional content of foods. Despite reservations about GMO plants, security and regulatory agencies have stood up to defend advantages of this plants. South Africa for example has recorded remarkable increase, remaining till present the leaders in Africa in the use of biotech crops. In an interview with UK MP Owen Paterson by SASHNEE MOODLEY, South Africa as realised an economic gain of $1.15-billion between 1998 and 2012 from the use of genetically modified (GM) crops or biotech crops. Sudan has also increased its biotech cotton hectares by almost 50% to 90 000 ha. He said, “although humanitarian and environmental groups have disputed the use of GM technology on crops, studies have shown that GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22% and boosted farmers profit by 68%.” Nigeria can definitely increase its crop production through the use of biotech plants, having them available, educating rural farmers on how to successfully maximize profit and strengthen the food growth of the country like other African countries like South Africa and Sudan. Read more on Biotech here from a Nigerian health practitioner.
Information and Communications Technology
The Internet is a standing topic in newspapers and on television, and the number of users doubles every year. IT can be used a tool for direct contribution to agricultural productivity and an indirect tool for empowering farmers to take informed and quality decisions which will have positive impact on the way agriculture and allied activities are conducted. The main objective of ICT application, from a development perspective, is that of empowering people through knowledge. It increases the effectiveness of their development efforts through informed decision making and through their capacity to harness science and various forms of knowledge to achieve the objectives of poverty eradication,
food security and sustainable development. This would be an effective tool for the very large uneducated populace farmers in the country and also help foster a better understanding of farming practice and marketing among the youths who are eagerly delving into farming today.
The 60’s are here in the 21st century, Agriculture should be fully worked on and modified in order to meet the needs and number of populace in the country. Application of technology in agriculture accompanied with the best policies can liberate Nigeria from the shackles of poverty, high cost of living and unemployment ravaging the country currently.