Nigeria’s Dry Season Farming and the Need for Tech Inclusion

Nigeria’s Dry Season Farming and the Need for Tech Inclusion

Rice farmers in Nigeria are bracing up for the dry season farming as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is set to mobilize one million rice producing farmers for the 2019/2020 dry season farming, under its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), according to AgroNigeria.

National President of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Alhaji Aminu Goronyo who revealed this to newsmen, said that arrangements have been concluded to see to the mobilization of the farmers nationwide.

In his remarks, “The major preparation that we started is that the CBN invited RIFAN last week; met with us and gave us the nod to quickly identify the participating farmers and also gave us the go-ahead to do everything possible to achieve more production in the dry season that is already in place.”

According to Goronyo, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele had given the go-ahead to consider at least one million farmers for the dry season farmer, which by extension could produce five million metric tons of rice.

The RIFAN President also debunked the claims that the farmers could encounter problems as regards to the availability of quality seeds and fertilizers, stating that there were more than enough fertilizers and seeds in all the production areas.

Goronyo further revealed that the association has signed an MoU with the Cross River state government on the provision of seedlings. In his words, “In Cross River, we have signed an MoU to work with Governor Ayade who has a seedling factory that has enough to cater to all the farmers that are going to transplant during the cultivation period. So we don’t have a problem with fertilizer and seed.”

He also stated that the CBN has provided the necessary suppor, especially in those two areas, adding that there are major companies that supply agrochemicals for the control of weeds and herbicides.

In line with the directive, Goronyo disclosed that he has begun a tour of the rice-producing states across the country, to motivate and mobilize farmers to meet the five million tons target.

“I’m on a tour to all the producing states. I started touring Sokoto, Kebbi, and will be going to Zamfara, Taraba, Cross River, Ogun, Ekiti, Ebonyi and Anambra, virtually all the producing states.”

He further advised farmers to give rapt attention to their agribusinesses, adding that the border closure is a big opportunity for farmers to capitalize on and harness for effective production of rice, and to ensure there are enough paddies for millers across the country.

However, the need to embrace technology in Nigeria’s agricultural infrastructure cannot be overemphasized. The high success rate of farmers in many countries has been as a result of deployment of innovative tools that has significantly curtailed environmental shortfalls. Stakeholders have advocated technical partnership to as a means of attaining food security in Nigeria.

Nigeria is currently the highest producer of rice in Africa with 4.9m metric tonnes, according to USDA. But the deficit is still high and the demand gap wide as the consumption need is scaling over 7m metric tonnes.

Dr. Alfred Dixon, the Director of the Development and Delivery Office of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), said for effective dissemination of agriculture research outcomes, there is a need for the intertwining of multiple linkages and collaborations across all agricultural value chains.

Popularly dubbed the “Father of Cassava”, Dixon emphasized the need for strategic partnerships to support the influx of innovation in order to bolster agriculture productivity. This, he pointed, will enable farmers to meet the target of feeding the population.

The IITA Director who made the charge while presenting his contract review seminar titled, “Scaling up and scaling out of agricultural innovations at IITA – Duo for systemic change”, stressed that while “scaling out” entails linking with the private sector, the farmers and the markets, “scaling up” involves working with governments and policymakers.”

Citing the need for the government to create the right policy environment for the adoption of the new technologies by farmers and other stakeholders, Dixon said: “Just having agriculture productivity or increase in agricultural production will not necessarily lead to an increase in income for farmers unless it is linked to the markets. When you have all that, you still need the policy environment. You need the private sector that is, the processors, the agro-dealers, the farmers. And you also need the government to give you the right policies and the powerful backing.”

Dixon, who also doubles as the Project Leader of the Cassava Weed Management Project (CWMP), which now operates under the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI), said that the IITA cassava projects have been able to reach millions of farmers because of the linkages made with several stakeholders, including government agencies.

He also stated that ACAI is disseminating its research outcomes using strategic partnerships in addition to technologies like the Akilimo application, the Six Steps to Cassava Management Videos, radio programs, Viamo’s 321-service, Cassava Matters website and many more.

On scaling up innovations, Dixon called for an increase working relationship between Research for Development (R4D) and Partnerships for Development (P4D), adding that “both contribute to sustaining agricultural transformation for scaling up and scaling out of agricultural innovations.”

His words: “We need R4D to do the science, P4D to do the scaling. We have multidisciplinary teams. All of them have to work together to link to the policymakers, that is the government, for the scaling up. We have to link to the NARS also for scaling up. We need to link to the private sector for the scaling out and also to the development investors for scaling up because we need the resources to work.”

Dixon, however, advised that future projects must consider sustainability and exit strategies before project design and implementation activities.

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