A greenhouse farmer, Mr Chuba Chukwuka, has called on the Federal Government to increase funding of agricultural research institutes in the country in order to cut the cost of agric production inputs.
Chukwuka made the call while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Lagos.
The farmer, who decried the growing cost of agric production inputs, like fertilisers and seeds, and called for their production locally.
“A lot of production input prices have gone up, which we can blame on both the COVID-19 pandemic and the inconsistent exchange rates.
“We import seeds for planting because we do not produce hybrid seeds in the country. Our agricultural research centres need to do a lot in this aspect.
“Government should invest more in our agricultural research institutes so that they can come up with our local production of hybrid seeds. We really lack enough research in our agric sector.
“I believe that funding of our research institutes will make us rely less on the importation of agricultural production inputs.
“For example, for crops like yams, cassava and corn, we do not need to import seeds, as we can source them locally, but for the hybrid peppers like habanero, we have to import their seeds.
“Though we have local species of pepper, like the ‘atarodo’ but the hybrid habanero pepper gives better taste and flavour to meals,” Chukwuka said.
He noted that the sale of agricultural produce had picked up quite well, but that the growing exchange rate had taken its toll on production costs.
“Farming activities have picked up quite well, following the gradual easing of the lockdown. Sales have been good but the cost of production keeps increasing.
“However, the cost of production inputs is currently on the high side, because most of the inputs we use are imported.
“The exchange rate increase has really affected the cost of most of our production inputs. A lot of fertilisers we use on the farm are imported. We also even source some of our seeds from abroad.
“There are fertilisers that are not manufactured locally, especially the water-soluble ones. The fertilisers we produce in the country have to be applied locally, which is not feasible in large-scale farming.
“For instance you cannot apply fertilisers manually on a 10-acre farm, but the water-soluble fertilisers can be applied on the crops through irrigation process.
“Most of our fertilisers like the NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium) must be sourced outside the country. There are some that contain nitrogen alone and are available locally.
“But, the fertilisers that contain potassium, magnesium and other micro-nutrients are not produced locally in the country,” Chukwuka said.
Edited By: Razak Owolabi and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq
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