Development partners and stakeholders in the agriculture sector have urged Nigeria to create sustainable development from untapped opportunities in the agricultural value chains in the country.
They spoke at a one-day Agricultural Investment Summit in Abuja on Tuesday.
The event was organised by Business Innovation Facility (BIF) in partnership with the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) and the Convention on Business Integrity Limited.
BIF is a five-year (2014 – 2019) market systems development programme funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) with the aim to improve the lives of the poor in three countries: Malawi, Myanmar and Nigeria.
The programme tries to identify and address constraints in selected markets and provide technical assistance and grants to fund businesses and other market players.
One of the discussants at the summit was the Head of Economic Development Team and Senior Economic Adviser of the UK Department for International Development, Richard Ough.
He said the team had been applying sustainable approaches to give farmers access to tractors at an affordable rate to boost agricultural production in Nigeria. This he said the team does by partnering with tractor owners, such as Hello Tractors.
“In 2- 3 years, Nigeria would have more Agro-Tech facilities in the Agro-Tech sector than any other country in Africa,” he said.
Also speaking, Celestine Ayok of Spring Dairies said challenges and opportunities exist in livestock value chains.
According to him, the output of the livestock, water, grass and disease control are some of the challenges in this value chain. He said the challenges provide farmers with an opportunity to subscribe to commercial pasture production and artificial insemination to increase their income.
Mr Ayok said it is lack of water in the North that is making pastoralists to move with their animals towards the southern regions of Nigeria.
“If you have grass and there is no water, animals will move because almost half of their body is composed of water. An animal can stay up to 10-12 weeks without grasses, but three to four days without water is a disaster,” he said.
He said advocacy and sensitisation have to be properly executed to stop the incessant clashes between farmers and pastoralists in the country.
“If you asked me to stay at a point with my livestock not to move, then you must create a suitable environment for me,” he said.
Mr Ayok said Nigeria had functional dams in the 1970s and 80s but they are no longer capable of retaining enough water to compensate for the dry season. He called on the government to fix the dams in order to reduce the movement of livestock.
“Palletisation of grasses should be encouraged. Palletisation has an advantage, it takes care of dry season feeding and can be easily moved from region to region in bulks,” he said.
The Vice president of Lagos State catfish producers, Sejiro Oketojinu, encouraged fish farmers to feed their fishes with the nutritious feed in order to have healthy fishes.
“Lots of farmers don’t produce to meet the targeted market,” he said. “People don’t feed their fishes with their right nutrient that is why they don’t get the right results,” he said.
He unveiled some made in Nigeria properly packaged fish products in cans and advised farmers to do the same in order to add value to their produce.
In his remarks at the summit, the Country Director of BIF, Soji Apampa, said he looked forward to explaining some of the programme’s sustainable innovations to Nigerian lawmakers.
“If I have my ways, I will stand in front of the Red Chamber and explain to them how we can get a lot more out of their constituency projects and I will do the same thing at the lower chamber as well because they touch every single area of the country,” he said.