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FAO recommends conservation agriculture for better output

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FAOABUJA – Conservation Agriculture, a method that manages agro-ecosystems for improved and sustained productivity, is vital for increased profits and food security in Nigeria, the Country Representative, Food and Agriculture Organisation, has said.

Ms. Louise Setshwaelo said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday while proposing viable technologies to aid Nigeria’s food security goal.
“Conservation agriculture helps to use water more efficiently in the sense that with conservation agriculture you don’t clear everything.

“You leave much on the ground; you leave cover crops; when you water, the evaporation rate is not as high as where you do not have cover crops.

“The rate and the efficiency of water use under conservation agriculture is much higher and this is one of the areas that we are looking at particularly in the Northern states where we know that rainfall is less and we have frequent drought.

“How do you engage technologies such as conservation agriculture to increase firstly the efficiency of the rainfall that is there, reduce the rate of evaporation and also to build the organic method, the fertility in the soil.

“These are some of the things that we are looking at, particularly under climate-smart agriculture.”

She noted that African countries had recognised the need to involve the youth in production, processing and marketing of agricultural produce.

She noted that at the 28th Session of the FAO Regional Conference on Africa held in Tunis in March, Ministers of Agriculture from the FAO member states pledged to involve the youth in aquaculture and in rice production.

She, however, urged African countries to tackle the challenges the youth face in order to reverse the status quo of subsistence agriculture.

“There are some of the bottlenecks that youths face in going into agriculture that need to be addressed by the countries; one of them is access to land.

“We need to facilitate access of youths to land, credit, and skills acquisition for the youth who choose to go into agriculture.

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“We need to make sure that they have the entrepreneurial skills that are needed to run these enterprises, linking them to the markets, because we don’t expect youths to go into agriculture and run agriculture as subsistence.

“It is to make sure that the youth who come into agriculture, see it as a business; they should be able to generate employment for other youths.”

While commenting on Nigeria’s agricultural products meeting international standards, Setshwaelo called for proper organisation of producers, high quality products and linkage to markets to promote regional and international trade.

“Honestly, I think Africa, if we want to, we can meet the standards in the global international markets; we can get our agricultural products out and meet the standards.

“One of the first things we need to do is to make sure that not only the producers but also the processors understand what the market requirements out there are.

“What are the issues in quality that we should be focusing to meet; what are issues particularly when it comes to food, in food safety that we should be meeting.

“In Africa, we look at this and we say this is for other people, but we also deserve safe food.

“If we meet those internationally recognised standards, they are not just for exporting but they are also for us and also means that we have better access to markets.”(NAN)

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