The Vice Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Professor Ibrahim Garba has said Nigeria with an estimated population of 200 million people has the highest market potentials for agricultural products in Africa.
He stated this at the opening ceremony of the USAID/AGRA/NAERLS CBA Project Stakeholder workshop held at ZEECOOL Hotel, Kaduna.
He said, the 18 agricultural research institutes (NARIs) in the country have various mandates aimed at harnessing these potentials.
According to him, nobody eats potentials, hence the need for the country to change its strategy to to grow its own food, develop our own markets and provide income and employment for its people.
He said, there is a very low level of mechanization with 10 tractors per 100 hectares.
“It is a common knowledge that average yields for maize, rice and soya beans in Nigeria is far below the world average.
“All these constraints are associated with a lack of awareness resulting from an in effective extension services as this trend cannot be allowed to go unchecked with our enormous human and material resources”.
Prof. Garba said, as key players in the agricultural sector, Nigeria has immense agricultural potentials, with the arable land area of about 85 million hectares out of which only 40 per cent is under subsistence cultivation.
He lauded the collaborative efforts of NAERLS and AGRA with aimed at carrying out the collaborative project to strengthen the national extension system by building the capacity of community based advisors (CBAs) for improved productivity of maize rice and soya beans in Niger and Kaduna states.
In his welcome address, the Executive Director NAERLS, Professor Mohammed Khalid Othman said agriculture is a business for over 70 per cent of Nigerians but it not recognized, given its low concern.
Prof.Othman also said, we produce slot but 30 per cent is local because Nigeria lacks knowledge of preserving, processing and marketing.
He said extension services are very important in the agricultural system
and NAERLS will ensure that this project will succeed and all hands must be on deck .
“We have agreed to work under the plan of action to make the project a successful one”.
In their separate remarks, Dr. Esther Ibrahim of AGRA said they plan to reach out to three million farmers in Nigeria.
She said they are also working with many organizations in order to meet the desired goals they are working towards.
Dr. Abdulhamid Gambo of SG2000 said they are in partnership with AGRA in order to reach out to the extension services providers.
He said their partnership with NAERLS is to reach the grassroot farmers because there is consistent loosing extension services staff.