By Amaechi Agbo
The National Committee of Heads of Colleges of Agriculture and Related Disciplines (NACHCARD), has called on the Federal and State Governments to ensure the sustainability of the gains made in food production in the country and guarantee food security as Nigeria moves towards post COVID-19 era.
NACHCARD made the call during its general conference held in Abuja Wednesday.
To reposition agriculture for food security, NACHCARD outlined that efforts should be focused on crops processing, packaging, storage, preservation, branding and patency in order to add value to agriculture. This should be complemented with mechanize and intensive farming system during and after post covid-19 pandemic.
NACHCARD enumerated agricultural practices to be adopted and implemented by the governments at all levels to include availability of credit facilities/financial supports through collaborations to farmers, mechanization and application of Information and Communication Technology, ICT and associated scientific approaches, effective agribusiness management and entrepreneurship development as well as provision of Climate Adaptation seeds and plants.
Other factors the NACHCARD appealed to the governments to leverage on in preserving and ensuring food security in Nigeria in post COVID-19 era include: encouragement and support for agricultural engineering, enhancement of knowledge of fertilizer formulation, types, ratio and application; application of effective disease and pest control, workable government policy to encourage farmers in their business and provide protection and enabling environment for good farming practices; and making accessibility to farmlands and evacuation of produce cheap through construction of link roads that will see to the easy movement of farm produce from the hinterland to the cities and various market places.
Speaking during the meeting, NACHCARD’s national Chairman, Dr. Oluyemi Akande said that the call for food security in post COVID-19 Nigeria became imperative so as not to lose track of the good records the country had during the pandemic.
“In repositioning agricultural for food security amid post covid-19 pandemic, there is the need to prepare a replacement for the aging local subsistence farming system by rekindling interest of youth in agriculture through agricultural mechanization.
“One of the salient ways to achieve this is to build capacity of youth in agriculture through which they will be equipped with requisite skills to earn a decent living while contributing to boost food production in the post covid-19.
“By doing so, they need to be trained in tractorization to be able to operate tractor for large scale and intensive farming with a full range of implements (plough, harrow, ridger, haul and handle all other 3- points linkage attachments such as boom sprayer, slasher, planter and carry out routine and scheduled maintenance operations with less supervision.
“Equipping young agricultural scientist with requisite skill in agricultural mechanization will promote increased food production in the country, create job opportunities, youth empowerment, reduce youth unemployment and unrest, broaden youths’ minds to wealth creation and increase their capacity in agricultural production.
“The focus in these regards should be placed on local assembled farm tractor and machineries using local content as being practiced by INCAN, Ilorin,” he said
The preservation of and sustenance of food security in post Covid-19 Nigeria is also achievable if governments at all levels ensure that link roads are constructed/rehabilitated to ease movement of farm produce to various destinations Without motorcycles, bicycles, wheelbarrow and trucks, it will be difficult to transport raw materials to the farm for planting or harvest crops from the place of production to the market for sale or for off-takers to buy the farm produce.
“Good roads that are tarred help in the evacuation of foodstuffs from the hinterland to the urban cities or other areas where they are needed. The use of different types of vehicles as were mentioned before are catalysts towards the realization of those lofty goals,” the NACHCARD boss concluded.