Agric expert tasks women, youths, on Integrated Farming System
Prof. Lucia Ogunsumi of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T) Ibadan, has called on female farmers and the youth in Nigeria and Africa to embrace Integrated Farming System (IFS).
Ogunsumi, an agricultural extension and rural development expert, made the call in an interview with Newsmen in Ibadan on Thursday.
She said that it had become imperative to support the women in promoting IFS in the country for sustainable agricultural development growth.
Integrated Farming is a whole farm management system, which enables the farmers to identify opportunities and threats and act accordingly; and at the same time, consider consumer interests in their business.
According to Ogunsumi, IFS and strategy are not based on a set of fixed techniques but on informed management processes.
“With IFS, Nigerian agriculture is going to be restored to its original status and would be sustained for generations to come.
“Foreign earnings will also come again from agriculture and our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will increase while youth unemployment will become a thing of the past.
“Also, a transformed agrarian community will be developed. Things will turn around for good in Nigeria, Africa, through modern agriculture and promotion of IFS model.
“The knowledge-based flexibility of IFS included: attention to details and management of all resources available for attainment of specific goals under a framework that defines and describes the guidelines for Sustainable Development Goals as it would impact on the next- generation agriculture,’’ Ogunsumi said.
According to her, sustainable agriculture, basically, entails improving the productivity and living standard of farmers without jeopardising the opportunities of the coming generation of farmers to do the same.
She noted that government at various levels embarked on different programmes and policies in order to revitalise the agricultural sector.
“Some of the programmes and policies emphasised the need to re-orientate women and youths back into agriculture.
“Youths are avoiding farming and are migrating to cities in search of menial jobs, engaging in street hawking and motorcycle riding, among others.
“Thus, one strategy to attract women and youths to choose to engage in farming is to turn farming into a profitable venture; commercialise agriculture and increase farming output and outfit.
“The income from farming should be commensurable with incomes from other sectors as well as its contemporaries across the globe,’’ Ogunsumi said.
She said generally, the low productivity in agriculture and high cost of production resulted in depressed farm income, which in turn, forced people to search for other employment outside agriculture.
“In the midst of these, population pressure increases land-use intensity under low level of use of external inputs; thereby, undermining the sustainability of our production systems.
“It is not an understatement that African nations, especially Nigeria, has never been found wanting in generation of policy documents.
“The concern has always been in the implementation. If our current efforts to revitalise the economy will bring any justifiable results, it must essentially and adequately address the prevailing challenges of agricultural development.
“About 34 per cent of Nigerian population are youths; over 90 per cent are not employed, while over 80 per cent of peasant farmers are aging with a mean age of about 65 years,’’ Ogunsumi said.
According to her, the age factor stands out clearly as a major factor around which youths have an advantage of transforming agriculture in the country in line with the Agricultural Transformation Agenda.
Ogunsumi said the agricultural agenda emphasised the need for commercial agriculture in order to increase and sustain productivity.
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