A don, Prof. Moses Omotayo, has called for the introduction of appropriate pricing regime for farm produce by government and development practitioners as a way of modernising the agricultural sector.
Omotayo made the call in a lecture he delivered at the 7th Founders Day celebration of Landmark University held on the university campus in Omu-Aran, Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara.
Omotayo, a Professor of Agriculture Extension and Rural Development at Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, spoke on “Opportunities and Challenges of Modernised Agriculture in Nigeria: The Higher Education Perspective”.
He said that the call for an appropriate pricing regime became imperative in order to avail farmers with minimum guaranteed prices on farm produce so as to boost their morale, productivity and income.
He decried a situation whereby the Nigerian farmer subsidised the cost of farm produce for consumers up to the tune of between 50 and 1,000 per cent for different categories of commodities in the value chain.
Omotayo said that although the minimum guarantee price scheme was already in place, the system had failed to address the problem of produce pricing comprehensively.
“The average Nigerian farmer produces a cob of maize at N20 and is forced to sell it at between N5 and N10.
“A major problem with agriculture in Nigeria, which requires a special attention by government and development practitioners, is appropriate pricing of farm produce.
“ More importantly, this has to be addressed if agriculture must be modernised,” he said.
Omotayo said that threats associated with huge post-harvest losses had constituted serious hindrance to efforts to modernise agriculture and attain food security in Nigeria.
According to him, such losses have been estimated to be as high as 20 per cent.
Besides, the professor called for the active involvement of the country’s 774 Local Government Areas in the Federal Government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda to enable it to achieve the desired results.
Omotayo said that there was a disconnection between what tertiary institutions were teaching and the actual needs or demands of farmers, agro-industrialists and other practitioners in the agriculture sector.
“There are three Federal Universities of Agriculture, over forty Faculties of Agriculture, about 25 Colleges of Agriculture and 18 agriculture or related research institutes in Nigeria.
“With all these in place, one would have thought that the framework for modernising the agriculture sector is firmly entrenched.
“Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. There appears to be a mismatch or disconnect between the teachings of the institutions and the demands of farmers,” he said.
In his remark, Prof. Adeniyi Olayanju, the university’s Vice-Chancellor, said the institution’s vision was based on a passion for change from an unsatisfactory status quo to unprecedented transformation of the black race in the scheme of development across the globe.
“To God be the glory, Landmark University has been living up to its vision and has over the years, distinguished itself with respect to excellent teaching and learning facilities.
“This also includes promoting mechanised agriculture and product development as well as fostering gainful value chains in agriculture,’’ he said.
Olayanju listed the achievements of the university as the expansion of farm capacity in the areas of egg production, meat production, rice cultivation and cassava processing, among others.
He urged the gathering to make good use of the themes of the lecture in efforts to actualise sustainable agricultural practices in the course of attaining the specific targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)