In a bid to address issues of low yield productivity experienced by farmers, the West and Central Africa Council for Agriculture Research and Development (CORAF ) and the Nigerian Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), yesterday gathered key stakeholders across the agricultural value chain to find ways that will not only increase farmers use of good quality agricultural inputs, but also increase the access and affordability of these inputs.
Speaking at the beginning of a two day National workshop for Analyzing Agri- input supply chains in West Africa and Sahel Sub-region in Abuja , the Lead Consultant to CORAF, Professor Bamidele Omitoyin said the Workshop is aimed towards looking at the issue of agricultural input supply like quality seeds , fertilisers, pesticides, fingerlings, etc. in West Africa and the Sahel.
He pointed out that the population of West Africa was growing at a drastic rate and with the continued use of poor agricultural inputs by farmers, the region may not be able to produce enough food to feed its growing populace.
“The Workshop is to look at the issue of agricultural input supply in West Africa and in the Sahel. Currently, we have low productivity in the agricultural sector and the major problem that is causing this low productivity is low use of agricultural inputs; agricultural input in terms of seed, in terms of livestock genetic material, in term of fertilizer, in terms of fingerlings, in terms of fish feed and other inputs that are used for agricultural productivity.
“Currently the population of West Africa is about 392 million and by 2050 the population will go to 800 million and the rural urban migration is increasing, people are moving from the rural areas to the urban areas and the major problem is how do you feed the high population in West Africa, and you cannot feed the population without the use of good agricultural inputs, without good seeds, without the use of fertilizer without increase in productivity of our cultivable land space, there is no way we can produce enough food to feed the population.
So, the essence of the Workshop is to meet together as stakeholders in Nigeria as we have done in Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Guinea Conakry to look at what are the challenges in this sector in Nigeria , and also to suggest what are the solutions and also to develop a holistic approach in developing strategy to make available and make accessible agricultural inputs that will be used for agricultural production in Nigeria, the West Africa and Sahel to enhance increase in food production thereby ensuring food security not only in Nigeria”, Professor Omitoyin said.
On fish production, Professor Omitoyin said the Nigerian fish sector recorded a decline in the production following lack of quality inputs, inability of farmers to access fish feed and lack of market, among others.
“In Nigeria, fish production has been on the increase before but suddenly, it is already going down from production figure of over 306,000 metric tons that we had in 2016, now it has gone down to 286,000 metric tons, and the reason is very simple, there are challenges of quality inputs, feed seeds, the fish feed are too expensive for farmers to be able to access, also we have the issue of market access, infrastructure are not there. These are the major issues within the sector that needed to be addressed so that we can have increase in fish production”, he added.
In his remarks, the Director General of NASC, Dr. Philip Ojo said the availability of quality inputs is fundamental, and that was why stakeholders convened to look at how they could partner to bridge the gap between farmers and quality inputs.
“Making quality inputs available to farmers is very fundamental and this one of the reasons why stakeholders came together to look at the challenges and look at how we can partner together to make quality inputs, not only seeds, fingerlings even inputs of fertilizers, particularly agro chemicals and inputs necessary for livestock available to farmers.
“Stakeholders from Benin, Burkina Faso and Nigeria are here to see how we work, challenge it and see how we can move the agric sector forward and also see how we can partner”, Dr Ojo said.
Also, the National Project Coordinator of West African Transformation Program (WAATP), Dr. James Apochi, his program which is at the second phase was going to upscale the climate change smart technologies they had generated.
“We are at the preparatory stage of the second phase of WAAPP which is going to be West African Transformation Program, and what we are going to do in the new phase of the project, we are going to upscale and outscale the climate smart technologies that we have generated.
“This is regional program of the ECOWAS and in the spirit if regional integration, the technology we are developing in Nigeria will also be given to other West African Countries and they send technologies to us”, he disclosed.
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