Lagos — Though Nigeria is said to be making progress in agriculture development, but 50 per cent of the entire harvest is lost by farmers.
Mrs. Olamide Ajadi, managing director and chief executive officer of AOD Farms, told LEADERSHIP that lack of processing equipment, poor storage facilities, low level of mechanised agriculture have contributed to annual post-harvest loss of about $9 billion in Nigeria.
Ajadi advocated setting aside of about 30-50 per cent of the country's annual budget for the agriculture sector so as to address dearth of infrastructure that is responsible for the huge loss.
Agriculture she said, is the most important economic activity which provides food, employment, foreign exchange and raw materials for industries, and presently contributing about 48 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), 68 per cent of employment and 70 per cent of the country's non-oil export.
However, she argued that if adequate attention was focused on agriculture in terms of budgetary allocation, the sector would be able to generate more than 70 per cent of the GDP.
Ajadi, who spoke to our correspondent on the sideline of awareness campaign by women farmers to mark the 2019 International Women's Day celebration, organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, (LCCI), expressed optimism in the coming planting season, saying, "The planting season for this year hopefully will be favourable as we are expecting rain anytime soon and we are expecting a very good and a bumper harvest."
Also, speaking to LEADERSHIP, Mrs. Bosun Solarin, the chief executive officer of DASUN Integrated Farms, Limited, complained about lack of access to productive resources such as land, modern input, improved technology, education and financial services to women as as major impediment to women's contributions to agriculture sector.
According to Solarin, Access to land is a basic requirement for farming and land is the most important household asset for households that depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.
She observed that in Nigeria, there were overwhelming evidence which showed that gender inequalities exist in access to land.
She noted that Nigerian women were consistently less likely to own or operate land, have access to rented land and oftentimes, the land they do have access to is of poorer quality and in smaller plots.
She advocated that strengthening women's access to and control over land was an important means of raising their status and influence within households and communities.
Solarin, also observed that extension services remain key source of information on new technologies for farmers in most developing countries, adding that provision of extension services in Nigeria has been low for both men and women and women tend to make less use than men of extension services due to insufficient number of extension workers which are ill equipped.