The Division of Agricultural Colleges of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, is to introduce courses on irrigation agronomy to improve all-year-crops production.
Prof. Musa Mahadi, the Director of the Division, who made this known in an interaction with newsmen in Zaria on Wednesday, said that this was to enhance food security in the country.
According to Mahadi, irrigation agronomy means crop production with an artificial supply of water.
He said the courses had become imperative considering the population explosion vis-à-vis climate threats to the rain-fed agriculture widely practiced in Nigeria.
The director said the courses would be at the National and Higher Diploma levels to expose students to the technologies of irrigation farming to avert food shortage.
He noted that food production had been decreasing while the population was on the increase, adding that this necessitated the need to look for other ways to improve food production.
Mahadi restated the institute’s commitment to providing more trained middle-level manpower for the agricultural sector to augment government efforts at achieving food security.
He, however, appealed to the government to scale up its interventions in agriculture with additional inputs for modern farming to strengthen agricultural mechanization initiatives and encourage modern farming.
According to him, this is one of the ways to encourage the youth to embrace agriculture and reduce unemployment in the country.
Mahadi noted that most of the soil in the country was deficient in nutrients hence the need for the application of fertilizers, stressing that fertilizers were becoming too costly and unaffordable to most farmers.
He added that smallholder farmers who produce the majority of farm produce in the country could not buy fertilizers due to high prices.
The don, therefore, urged the government to come up with policies that would aid farmers to get the commodity at a subsidized rate.
Mahadi said that it was imperative for the government at all levels to leverage technology to beef up agricultural production to prevent food scarcity as envisaged by some experts.
“The issue is that Nigeria has all the resources but a large part of agricultural land was not cultivated in the country due to lack of modern machinery for such services.
“For instance, the ox-drawn plow is being used to till the land, but the government should provide new policies for the supply of new farm machinery and technologies to farmers through the reactivation of tractor hiring scheme.
“It will go a long way in expanding farmlands used in food production,’’ Mahadi said.
He commended the Federal Government’s Anchor Borrowers Scheme, but advised that checks be introduced to ensure that the intervention reached the target group, not “political farmers’’.