KOGI STATE NEW DAWN FOR ATTAINANCE OF FOOD SECURITY
Nigeria is facing two key gaps in agriculture today: an inability to meet domestic food requirements and an inability to export at quality levels required for market success. Kogi State is one of the newly create state located at middle belt of Nigeria, situating between latitudes 6°33’N and 8°44’N , longitudes 3°22’E and 7°49’E, Lokoja as its capital. It can boast of total land area of 28,313.53 sq. km under population of 3,278,487 with 172,000 farm families, 70% of population mostly lives in the rural areas, engaging in crop production and animal rearing. Kogi State is made up of 21 Local Government Areas. The state is divided into three senatorial zones and twenty one local government areas. Its low land areas are extensively plain, alluvial and swampy. A good producer
of yam, cocoyam, cassava, melon, maize, sorghum, rice, cowpea, benniseed and oil palm. Cattle, sheep, goats and poultry birds are reared in Kogi State.
The major economic activities of the people Kogi state are farming, fishing, services and government employees and the major crops grown are yam, cassava, and rice while the cash crops include cashew, oil palm, and Neem tree as well Kogi State is abundantly endowed with Iron Ore, Limestone and coal.
Poor financing of agricultural extension programmes has been a long-standing problem facing the service in developing countries.
The effects of the expiration of World Bank’s funding were noticeable in the following areas in the operations of Kogi State Agricultural Development Programme. Upon the
measures taken by Kogi State Agricultural Development Programme to cope with the cessation of assistance by the World Bank to strengthen its activities that were affected like stoppage of activities such as rural road construction, drilling of water bore holes in rural communities, reduction of seed procurement its distribution to farmers; yet its Agricultural sector remains in jazzy state. With coherent further reduction of staff strength in a bid to live within the scope of its resources, change in training of extension officers, monthly technology review meetings that carved out to foster research-extension linkage to monthly training of extension officers and quarterly technology review meetings respectively, with limited collaboration with national agricultural research institutes and universities. Reduction in number of workshops or seminars organized for its contact farmers. Agricultural Development Programme had gone ahead to secure approval to benefit from the National Agricultural Technology Support Fund in order to continue with on-farm adaptive research activities. Whatever, performance on Kogi state agricultural extension contact declined during 2009 to 2013 period when World Bank’s assistance ceased.
Technology can be seen as the process by which humans modify nature to meet their needs and want.
Agricultural technology includes both components and processes of agricultural production. These processes may include; production of plant and animal breeding (including biotechnology), the introduction of new crops, livestock and fisheries, mechanization, infrastructural development and inputs.
Agriculture seems to play a unique role in reducing poverty through the use of new technologies. Due to an ever increasing demand for food as a result of population growth and a wide variety of nutritional requirements, the existing gap between food and population expansion, cultivable land and labour has significantly increased.
The development of agricultural technology in Nigeria led to the creation of agricultural technology centre or agricultural
research institutes; and the major role is to breed improved seeds of crops that are early maturing, high yielding, resistant to pests and diseases and are adaptable to local environment.
Agriculture is an important livelihood source for about 75% of people surviving on less than $1 a day – the internationally agreed definition of absolute poverty line in rural areas (IFAD, 2001). It was observed by Maxwell, (2001) that 70% of Sub- sahara African’s labour force and 67% of South Asians work in agriculture or are employed by agriculture. The argument in favour of agriculture as the poverty alleviating sector per excellence rest on more than population statistics. Improvement in agricultural productivity has a powerful knock–on effect to the rest of the economy like food processing through input supply and increasing the supply of affordable food which stimulates and support economic growth and development. Technology change in agriculture began at least 10,000 years ago when the first cultivation selected wild plants which were experimented with different growing environments.
(2003). Earlier in civilization, the technical performance of agriculture in the great civilization remained roughly equivalent for centuries until the middle of the nineteenth century, where principally in Europe and North America, we saw the introduction of new machinery into agricultural activities. The spread and improvement in agricultural technologies has since then been very impressive, particularly in improved “modern varieties” (MVS) of grains. In 1990 modern varieties (MVS) represented an estimated 75% of Rice, 70% wheat and 57% of the maize growth in the developing world.
The question now with the appointment of Hon. Nda Tim Dichie at the helm of Kogi state Agricultural and Natural Resources , much is expected of his office in the area of
New policy repositioning and implementations
to enhance adoption of improved agricultural technology development, improve farm output productivity while enhancing the farmers’ welfare and the economy at large.
The strategic policies on extension on staff training to be deployed to rural areas to increase information data and training as well on better utilization of improved farm output production technologies expected.
Sustainable Improved technology that will make readily available and accessible to farmers’ at affordable price is to expected in assuming new policy.
The Kogi state government policies on importation and production of agro-chemicals should be positioned in way providing those chemicals at most useful, affordable and friendly use to their environment.
There is a need to compel farmers to avail themselves to available improved technologies to increase their production and welfare.
Credit facilities have to be made available and accessible to Kogi State farmers.
On his day of assuming office as Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources at lokoja, Hon. Tim Dichie pledged to give strong priority to massive food production and sufficiency.
He described Agriculture as the “life wire for development of any state, nation or people.’’
He went further to reinstate that
“Kogi will be a pace setter in agriculture for massive food production, revenue generation, job creation and empowerment for all categories of people in the state.
“We must be able to feed ourselves conveniently and also feed other states with the endowment of vast fertile land available in the state,’’
that he had consulted widely on how to effectively and efficiently boost food production, and financial support for farmers.
“We will try our best as a ministry to perform maximally and exceed the expectations of the people of the state in agricultural development.
“My experience in the private sector would go a long way to help in building a solid foundation for agriculture and food sufficiency in the state,’’ while not forgotten to
commends Gov. Yahaya Bello for the opportunity given him to bring his experiences to bear in agriculture sector in the state.
The newly appointed commissioner is expected to put in place a strategized policies aimed at championing efforts in increasing agricultural productivity , tailored to enhance farmers’ ability to store food.
On these prevalent challenges staring him at the face the much expected
Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources on one of his interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lokoja. Mr Tim Dichie, reiterated his commitment to partnering farmers across the state to achieve food sufficiency.
He reaffirmed that the administration of Gov. Yahaya Bello was fully ready to give necessary support to all farmers in the 21 local government areas of the state to facilitate massive food production.
“I can assure you that the governor is very committed to what we are doing in our ministry and he is always ready to give us his total support.
“We are going to use every platform to support farmers in terms of funding, seedling, processing, harvesting, storage and marketing to boost food production in Kogi and the nation.
“As a commissioner, I have contacted all the stakeholders involved for their cooperation in making agriculture a business hallmark in the state.
“We will ensure that all the past challenges facing farmers in the state are adequately addressed to ease access to funds and farm inputs,” he restated.
The commissioner, urged all farmers in the state to come forward and register with the Ministry of Agriculture to have their names in the state’s database.
He emphasised during that interactive session that the established database would give equal opportunity to every registered farmer to easily access other government’s programmes for farmers.
“Agriculture is the life wire for development of any state or nation. We must be able to feed ourselves conveniently and also feed other states.
“Kogi is going to be a pace setter in agriculture for massive food production, revenue generation, job creation and empowerment for all categories of people in the state,” Dichie said.
Improved agricultural technology if effectively utilised will automatically translates into higher average Kogi state household income, and potentially improved food entitlements and farmers’ health as it attends nutritional status.
Is expected of him to take measures in sustaining adoption of improved technologies which should encompasses investments on irrigation use, water conservation technology and drought tolerant crop varieties. All these will calls for him races to further research in these subject matters.
For Kogi state government enhancing economic impact of improved agricultural technologies, there is a need embark on unequal adoption of such technologies, and low use of other inputs (e.g fertilizer).
However, significant investments on irrigation systems, creation of favourable environment to achieving the so much talked- about Green Revolution, requires substantial investments on infrastructure and credit market, particularly in Kogi State in light of the agricultural potentials in this area. Such investment will foster and sustain the adoption of improved agricultural technologies, with a significant impact on poverty reduction. Due to the importance of the agricultural sector in Kogi State of Nigeria, which by a large amount is the main source of employment and internal generated source of government revenues.
Despite having a high prolific portfolio and gigantic achievements in private sector and as former chairman of Bassa Local Government Area with recorded success in putting many things in place, such as prompt payment of staff salary, rehabilitation of Gboloko and Sheria Markets and bringing lasting peace to Bassa Local Government this recent appointment and people expectation is another hurdle to pass.
Hon. Nda Ndichie is not a new scene in impacting lives as his numerous humanitarian acts such in lives of widows and orphans, giving bedding materials, scholarship , distribution of motorcycles to youths and assorted household goods to the less privileged within Bassa/Dekina Federal Constituency under his foundation” Dichie Foundation” can attest to.
Hon. Nda Dichie is not regular in the media scene.
His low-key approach, charisma and pragmatism, may, in part, be reflected in many voices singing for the support of this youthful Honourable Commissioner. Aside, that his parliamentarianism approach to issues has given him overwhelming popularity among Kogian elites, yet this post carries high expectation of him.
Whether in areas of propelling Kogi state attaining food security, nutrition security, poverty reduction, economic growth, Natural resources production, human health a lot faiths, are camped in him by the Kogians.
With the increasing passage of time and rush of events, the stakes have become much higher.
The only way to achieve real socio-economic, political power and relevancy inside any task ahead for him is to win. Despite all the various obstacles, Hon. Commissioner, Dichie and his agricultural and Natural resources teams seem well on their way- PAMELA JAMES