20 February 2013

Nigeria: How Agric Can Reduce Rural Poverty - Niser Researcher

Ibadan — The Federal Government has been called upon to adopt, without further delay, climate sensitive agricultural reforms to enable the nation's agricultural sector contribute optimally to the country's rural poverty reduction agenda.

A top researcher at the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER), Dr. Andrew Onwuemele made the recommendation in Ibadan while delivering a lecture under the NISER Research Seminar series.

In his paper entitled "Rural Poverty Reduction Under a Changing Climate: Is Agriculture Still the Key in Nigeria?" Dr. Onwuemele insisted that the adoption was necessary because of the instability of climate which was a great factor in agriculture.

According to the NISER researcher, another precondition for agriculture to reduce rural poverty was for the federal government to mainstream adaptation activities into national development plans, something which he said had been neglected in the past.

Dr. Onwuemele called for the sharing and adequate utilization of climate information among stakeholders as another important precondition disclosing that his findings showed that in Nigeria, growth in the agricultural sector was occasioned by increase in cultivated areas but not accompanied by increase in productivity.

He explained that his research further indicated that yam and cassava had witnessed the highest growth and productivity when compared with other crops in Nigeria, saying his findings revealed that past rural poverty reduction efforts in Nigeria have had little or no consideration with changing climatic conditions.

While advising the Nigerian government to learn from China by encouraging the whole society to participate in actions to combat climate change, Dr. Onwuemele further urged the government to strengthen institutional and legal systems designed for addressing climate change.

Specifically, he advised government to emulate China by encouraging large scale construction of farmland capable of producing stable yields that would stand attack by drought or flood conditions, saying the federal government should develop new large scale irrigation areas and renovate existing irrigation and drainage facilities.

The researcher said government should also ensure that large percentage of the farmland used for planting major crops nationwide was sown with superior strains.

Earlier in his opening address, the Director-General of NISER, Prof. Olufemi Taiwo stated that under a capitalist economy, it was really a great challenge for government to reduce poverty adding that it needed serious commitment on the part of government and stakeholders.

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