By David Peter
In spite of the oil, agriculture remains the base of the Nigerian economy, providing the main source of livelihood for most Nigerians for more than 30% of the population. The sector faces many challenges, notably an outdated land tenure system that constrains access to land (1.8 ha/farming household), a very low level of irrigation development (less than 1 percent of cropped land under irrigation), limited adoption of research findings and technologies, high cost of farm inputs, poor access to credit, inefficient fertilizer procurement and distribution, inadequate storage facilities and poor access to markets have all combined to keep agricultural productivity low (average of 1.2 metric tons of cereals/ha) with high post-harvest losses and waste.
Even though agriculture still remains the largest sector of the Nigerian economy and employs two-thirds of the entire labor force, the production hurdles have significantly stifled the performance of the sector. Over the past 20 years, value-added per capita in agriculture has risen by less than 1 percent annually.
It is estimated that Nigeria has lost USD 10 billion in annual export opportunity from groundnut, palm oil, cocoa and cotton alone due to continuous decline in the production of those commodities.
Food (crop) production increases have not kept pace with population growth, resulting in rising food imports and declining levels of national food self-sufficiency.
The main factors undermining production include reliance on rain-fed agriculture, smallholder land holding, and low productivity due to poor planting material, low fertilizer application, and a weak agricultural extension system amongst others.
To this effect, “Cross River has embarked on massive Agro-Industrialization come transformation which is the only way to go and it is the first level of Industrialization.
The Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade have blaze lead to mitigate challenges facing the agricultural sector technologically to advance the agro setting’s in Cross river state through the usage of automated machines and digital equipment to ease the culture of farming, as well enhance the agro-productivity in Cross river state.
Ayade’s, his optimistic and vision oriented to decouple the state from its over dependence on federal government allocation through agriculture, thus spurring relevancy to agro-industrialization and enticing youths and young people to embark on a practicable agronomy and livestock production fostering the establishment of ultramodern factory’s (Cocoa, Toothpicks, Rice, Noodles, Poultry, Chicken, Cotton) equipped with sophisticated machines to ease farming.
Sir Ayade, has expressed his desire to get Cross River youths gainfully employed through his Agro-industrialization, acknowledging that, 90 percent of the industries as established in the state are agro- based. “Obviously, there is no way that all the industries the Governor have set up, which 90 percent of them are agro-based, will function without the appropriate industrial farms.
Again, as the state lead in agro-industrialization the leadership strongly affirm on the “industrial revolution, it must be agro- industrial because it is the only system that guarantees massive recruitment of people, massive production and ultimate beneficial of raw materials which means you take raw materials like cocoa and process it until you get chocolate”, the governor once said.
Cross river state is on the verge of replicating the year 1876 agro-industrial revolution in Europe targeted at achieving self sustenance. “The agro-industrial revolution which started in 1876 in Britain is about to start in Nigeria and Cross River State is leading Africa towards our own self sustenance in terms of the entire agricultural value chain.
In the ever rising population, there’s need for Nigeria to employ technology and precision agriculture to maximize its agricultural productivity. The Cross river state government have trials an edge to digitalize agriculture in the state and betterment the citizenry’s through the use of irrigation drones, automobile machines, digital tools and equipment’s to improvise the farming systems in Cross river state and beyond Africa.