Poor funding of the agricultural sector, inadequate research and extension, have been fingered as the obstacles to achieving food sufficiency in Nigeria.
Making this observation at an audience participatory programme known as “Radio Links” on Radio Nigeria, monitored recently by our reporter, Professor Garba Sharubutu, Provost of the College of Animal and Husbandry Technology, in Vom, Plateau State, said that Nigeria’s population was growing at 3.2 per cent per annum while food production witnessed only between 1 to 2 per cent.
Sharubutu said that a lot of issues including policy, funding, training, research and extension must be properly addressed by the government and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector in order to boost food production in the country.
He said: “The colleges of agriculture are not properly funded to carry out their mandate. To worsen the situation, they cannot be funded by the Tertiary Education Fund (TETFUND) because they are under the federal ministry of agriculture not education. How can they properly carry out training and research?”
Also speaking on the programme, Architect Kabiru Ibrahim, a poultry and fish farmer from Katsina State and the President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), faulted the persistent low budgetary allocations to agriculture, and advocatedg for 20% of the national budget to be dedicated to the sector annually to create enabling environment for the farmers to produce more.
Another guest on the programme, Dr. Amos Edga, President of the Nigeria Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA), lamented the lack of data on animal population in the country, saying the last animal census was done in the 90s.
He urged the government to carry out animal population census to ensure proper planning and boost animal.
On how to tackle bird-flu outbreak in Nigeria, he said the government should intensify surveillance and killing of affected birds, adding that farmers should be discouraged from vaccinating their birds against the disease because “that is not a good practice