By; SANI ALIYU, Zaria
The Director, Division of Agricultural Colleges (DAC), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Professor Musa Abdullahi Mahdi has restated the commitment of the college to provide more trained middle level manpower for the agricultural sector to augment government’s efforts on achieving food security in Nigeria.
He stated this in an interview with newsmen in Zaria, noting that food production has been decreasing while population was on the increase, stressing that this buttresses the need to look for other ways of improving food production.
The Director appealed to the government to scale-up its interventions in agriculture with additional input for modern farming to strengthen agricultural mechanization initiatives and encourage modern farming.
According to him, this is one of the ways to encourage the youth to further embrace agriculture and reduce unemployment in the country.
He also appealed to states and the federal government to provide more fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides and other input that are required for crop production.
Prof. Mahdi said small holder farmers who produce the majority of farm produce in the country cannot afford to buy fertilizers for their farms.
He said most of the soil is deficient in nutrients, hence the need for application of fertilizer, stressing that fertilizer is becoming too costly and unaffordable to most farmers.
The don, therefore, urged the government to come up with policies that would aid farmers to get fertikizer at a subsidized rate.
Mahdi said that it was becoming very imperative for the government at all levels to leverage on technology to beef up agricultural production to prevent food scarcity as envisaged by some experts.
“The issue is that Nigeria has all the resources but a large part of agricultural land is not cultivated in the country due to lack of modern machinery for such services.
“But if the government provides new policies for the supply of new farm machinery/technologies to farmers through the reactivation of Tractors Hiring Scheme, it will go a long way in expanding farm lands used in food production,’’ Mahadi said.
He commended government’s Anchor Borrowers Scheme but advised that more checks and balances should be deployed to ensure that the interventions reached the target group, not `political farmers’.
Commenting further on the new courses, he said they will contribute in ensuring food security in NIgeria.
“The Division would commence irrigation agronomy programmes to improve all year crops production in the country towards enhancing food security in Nigeria,” he disclosed.
Mahadi said irrigation agronomy means crop production with artificial supply of water and the programme has become imperative considering the population explosion in the country vis-à-vis climate threats to the rain-fed agriculture widely practiced in Nigeria.
The division he further explained, is set to commence courses in irrigation agronomy at National Diploma level and Higher National Diploma levels to expose students to the technology of irrigation farming to avert food shortage in the country.