An agricultural extension expert, Dr Bala Shehu, has called on tiers of government to prioritise greater investment in transportation and storage facilities to boost food security.
Shehu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the availability of these facilitates would attract private investment, improve access to purchased inputs, credits and enhance marketing efficiency in the sector.
According to him, key constraints impeding sustainable and increased agricultural productivity in Nigeria are low access to financial facilities, inadequate extension and advisory services.
Shehu, who is the Zonal Officer, National Agricultural Extension and Research Liason Services, North Central Zone, also listed challenges of gender inequality, poor road infrastructure and storage constraints.
He noted that there was a well-established relationship between the availability of infrastructure and agricultural productivity in Nigeria.
He said “This is being hindered by the non-availability of infrastructures such as road networks, post-harvest storage and irrigation technology.
“Other types of infrastructure such as telecommunications and electricity supply also play a major role, but the impact is more evenly dispersed across all sectors of an economy.
“Limited or poor-quality roads and rail transportation inhibit timely access to inputs, increase costs of inputs and decrease access to output markets.”
On limited access to financial facilities, Shehu said agriculture is a major contributor to Nigeria’s GDP and small-scale farmers play a dominant role in this contribution.
He, however. said agricultural productivity and growth were hindered by limited access to credit facilities.
He said modernising agriculture required a large infusion of credit to finance the use of purchased inputs such as fertilizers, improved seeds, insecticides and additional labour.
Shehu noted that agricultural extension and advisory service had been at the forefront in the delivery of adequate information and technologies to farmers for increased productivity.
He said agricultural extension and advisory service were saddled with the responsibility of disseminating innovation to transform agricultural production for food security and economic development of agrarian communities.
“Agricultural extension and advisory services occupy a strategic position in the agricultural production cycle, as it connects the farmers and research scientists and between farmers and policymakers”.