As Nigeria makes efforts to ensure that agriculture plays a key role in its quest for revenue diversification, stakeholders in the sector have charged the Federal Government to bridge infrastructural gaps to aid agribusiness development in the country and ensure food security.
Indubitably, some of the greatest problems confronting rural farmers and communities in Nigeria are the absence of critical infrastructures such as motorable roads, storage facilities, and irrigation facilities among others.
Farmers continue to suffer low levels of agricultural productivity due to infrastructural deficit across the country, which reduces their profit and impact on their capacity to increase productivity.
The provision of critical infrastructure is a pre-requisite for enabling Nigeria to stimulate economic growth and to reach the targets for economic diversification and food security.
Obiora Madu, former chairman, export group, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said that Nigeria does not have an effective agricultural infrastructure, stating that the country’s export drive can only be successful with adequate infrastructural facilities such as storage, good road networks amongst others, stressing that the lack of it has made the cost of food production higher.
“The costs of logistics are also very high. It is cheaper to transport a commodity to Europe than to transport the same commodity within the country,” Madu said.
After a few days of heavy rainfalls, most farming areas and markets become impassable and this has continued to impact negatively on the prices of food items across the country.
Samson Akwah, organising secretary-yam section, Mile 12 market said that the cost of transporting yam tubers using a Mercedes Bens truck (911) from the middle belt region to Lagos has increased from N350, 000 to N700, 000 due to the bad state of road infrastructures.
Despite Nigeria ranks top in the production of some crops, the infrastructures needed to store the excesses are lacking.
According to Abiodun Olorundenro, manager, Aqua Shoots, the problem with Nigeria agriculture is infrastructure, stating that the country is growing enough to feed its people but most of what is grown often rots in the field because it is difficult to move them easily from the farms and the facilities to store them are lacking.
“We can only feed ourselves when the infrastructures needed to boost productivity across the value chain are there. We can even move our foods from the farm to the market easily,” Olorundenro said.
He stated that developing agriculture is very critical in the country’s efforts to diversify, which he said can only be achieved when heavy investments are made in infrastructures.
Investments in the country’s primary agricultural infrastructures will help integrate poorer sections of the population into a sustainable process of economic growth and development, experts say.
In turn, this will reduce poverty by providing jobs, directly and indirectly, that will serve as a stimulus to the economy and the agricultural sector.
Nigeria’s population is fast rising and it’s growing at an annual rate of 3.1 percent, therefore the need to bridge infrastructural gaps is necessary for food security and economic growth.