The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has identified the use of appropriate technology as a vital tool for reversing low agricultural productivity and unlocking the potentials of African smallholders.
Adesina disclosed this last week at the signing of Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry and African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) on increased food production and food security.
The Minister stressed that the meeting opens an avenue for collaborative efforts to jointly identify and facilitate the transfer of appropriate technologies that meet the needs of the farmers, particularly in Nigeria, in ways that address and resolve the concerns of technology providers and users.
Highlighting some of the achievements made, Adesina said under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of President Goodluck Jonathan, the ministry had entered the third year of implementation of Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme, a programme, which depends on a modern technology called electronic wallet.
“This technology has enabled us to reach nearly 10 million farmers with subsidised farm input support since inception, with attendant increase in farm yield and improved livelihood for the registered beneficiaries,” he stated.
According to him, meeting with AATF to discuss issues of mutual interest pertaining to the current involvement in the agricultural sector in Nigeria and exploring new opportunities is in line with the transformation agenda of President Jonathan.
“It is pertinent to state that under ATA, we place much premium on the use of appropriate technology as key to reversing the low agricultural productivity and unlocking the potential of African smallholders in Africa. We are therefore happy to have you here and we are mindful of your many efforts to boost food security and improved livelihood of farmers in many countries of Africa,” he stated.
Adesina noted that rice was a major commodity under the ATA, as AATF’s intervention will be of remarkable benefit to the Nigerian farmers, adding that Nigeria’s diverse agro-ecological zones will also find AATF’s work useful, in partnering with private sector agricultural companies and research institutions to develop improved rice varieties with enhanced agronomic traits that will increase yields by about 15 per cent and also optimise the use of available farmland and water.
“Your wide areas of intervention and the successes you have recorded so far will be beneficial to Nigerian farmers under the ATA. Maize is one of our commodities under the transformation interventions but we are aware of the need to ensure the best possible yields despite constraints.
For instance, the control of Striga, a noxious weed that reduces farm maize yields, already affecting the livelihood of nearly 100 million farmers across sub-Saharan Africa, requires urgent interventions. Your interventions are increasing yields by 300 per cent (0.5 – 1.5 tonnes/ha) and improving income by US$ 400 per season, per hectare in pilot countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
“Amidst alarming predictions that hotter, drier weather caused by climate change could devastate African maize production, reports reaching us show that AATF is protecting maize against drought and insect damage through developing water-efficient maize for Africa. For our semi-arid and resource-poor farming communities in Nigeria, AATF’s maize varieties endowed with water-conserving and insect protection traits are capable of boosting harvests by 20 to 35 per cent under moderate drought conditions”, Adesina stated.
Earlier speaking the Executive Director, AATF, Dr. Dennis Kyetere noted that AATF is facilitating access and delivery of appropriate agriculture technologies for smallholder farmers in Africa.
Kyetere noted that appropriate agricultural technologies, agricultural science, technology and inovation can improve food security and reduce poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
According to him, Africa is finally moving towards higher crop yields, African governments and institutions have recognised African’s need to access new and better agricultural technologies, stressing that African major challenge in agriculture is availability of sufficient quality seed and its affordability.