by crossriverwatch admin
There are numerous ordinarily staple foods which can be produced in Nigeria to meet local needs but poor attitude to farming has left the country continuously importing them to the detriment of the economy and agricultural growth.
From the figures released by the World Bank, in just three years, between 2007 and 2010, Nigeria spent the sum of 682 billion dollars or 98 trillion Naira on the importation of food.
In just one year, 2010, the country expended 632 billion Naira on the importation of wheat, and a billion Naira daily on the importation of rice with a total import figure of 366 billion Naira; 217 billion Naira on sugar, 97 billion on fish imports and 34 billion on the importation of vegetables.
It is with the aim of addressing these inadequacies in food production in the country that a food production organization, Rural Infrastructure Services for the Under Served Population, (RISE-UP) with the aid of the United Nations Development Program, (UNDP), New Forest Projects, a United States based food research agency and the World Vegetable Center, the world’s largest vegetable research organization based in Asia, have introduced the sustainable use of high yield seedlings, soil and water resources to enhance improved vegetable production in the country.
Recently, Rural Infrastructure Services (RISE-UP) in Godilogo Farms, located in far away Bebi, close to the Obudu Ranch Resort, brought local farmers, especially women groups together and introduced them to sustainable farming methods for the production of high yield tomatoes.
Using Obudu, which is considered to be the “home” for the production of tomatoes, RISE-UP introduced new skills for the farming of tomatoes alongside supplying the women with large quantities of high yield varieties of tomato seeds to enable them maximize the production of the vegetable.
Mr. Niyi Adigun, the Coordinator of the program, said, “Owing to a number of factors which include lack of access to good planting materials, lack of capital and access to finance, non availability of proven cheap irrigation technologies, and incentive scheme for real farmers, and the craze for white collar jobs by youths has left farming in Nigeria to be thought of as an unprofitable venture thereby ignorantly consigned to the aged and rural dwellers who cannot produce enough to meet the food needs of the teeming population in the country.
Bringing together and training the women groups, Adigun said, is to enable them form group synergy and exchange ideas as against individual efforts which cannot go far in terms of accessing credits to purchase irrigation equipment and other essential farm needs.
He said beyond fending for themselves, the new tomatoes farming methods would boost the finances of the women and also attract youths who would then see the tangible benefits derivable from farming.
“Rather than wait for government, the high yield seeds and new skills we are introducing would enable the women produce not just for the local Nigerian market but also the international market which is waiting and willing to accept exports of vegetable from Nigeria.” He added
The women groups which were drawn from communities surrounding Bebi including Buya, Amunga, Lisheshe, Shikpeshe, and Busi, were taken on a tour of sample farms which have started the cultivation of the high yield tomatoes to physically confirm the claim by the RISE–UP organization on the high yield of the new seeds.
“The Nigerian situation presents a paradox because we have enough rich land for the cultivation of food, but our people are hungry, malnourished and poor especially in rural areas where this land exists. What we are doing is to bring back dignity to farming as little effort produces maximal yield with our high yield seedlings”. Adigun assured.
He told the women that the World Vegetable Center, which is the leading vegetable research development center in the world, has supplied RISE-UP Nigeria with “over twenty five varieties of high yield tomato seedlings for onward distribution to you free. All you have to do is to participate in the training on how to cultivate these varieties in the New Year and find out which one is best for your environment and we shall supply you the quantity you need”.
He said the seedlings and training are free because the organization aims to develop subsistence farmers in rural communities through a participatory approach in increasing agricultural production. “We aim at community based opportunities for families in the rural areas to transform their situation through their own effort by attacking the cause of poverty”.
He said low cost manual farm equipment like water sprinklers, drip irrigation are being supplied by Kick Start, a US based farm implement production company to assist the farmers.
This will ensure sustainable farming methods as it will give room to minimal land tillage, use of organic farming method such as rice husk, animal waste, cassava peels to aid rapid growth of tomatoes “The program would increase vegetable production and consumption alongside fostering rural development through improved economic base for the people”.
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