‘Crop cultivation in Nigeria requires additional 48m hectares’
Professor of Botany, Dr Omotoye Olorode, has said that about 30 million hectares of land are known to be under cultivation in Nigeria but about 78.5 million hectares are estimated to be required for a credible degree of food security. He claimed the additional 48.5 million hectares would be cultivated sustainably to make the country food-secure.
He also stated that agriculture is combined by smallholder farmers that operate between four and acres each largely under rain-fed management, adding that most of the farmers lack knowledge of modern practices and have insufficient capital with little or no required equipment of their own.
He spoke while delivering the ninth convocation lecture of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State.
Olorode, who is of Odoje Biodiversity Centre, Odoje-Orile, Ogbomoso, opined that one of the most important characteristics of agriculture and rural development in Nigeria had been problems associated with external aids, loans and other forms of external assistance, remarked that “hundreds of millions of naira have been spent by federal and state governments in addition to loans obtained from the World Bank on the Agricultural Development Projects.”
According to him, the importance of agriculture, which he said encompasses crop cultivation, livestock production, forestry, fishing and hunting, “is measured or ascertained as the value-added of the agricultural sector as percent of Gross Domestic Product of a country.”
Commenting on Nigerian Vision 20: 2020, he said that the Nigerian agricultural sector has witnessed remarkable policy changes since it was launched in 2009, adding that its first implementation plan was ongoing when the Agricultural Transformation Agenda came on stream in 2011 and lasted until 2015.