The Institute for Agricultural Research at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, Kaduna State, has called on the Federal Government and various tiers of Governments to boost dry season farming.
Director of the Institute, Prof. Mohammed Ishiyaku, in a chat with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Zaria on Sunday, explained that encouraging dry season farming with incentives made to farmers would enable Nigeria to achieve food sufficiency.
He also used the opportunity to urged farmers to prioritize maize and beans production as against vegetables production.
He noted that the prices of grains had been high since 2020 when compared to prices obtainable in the previous years because of the reduced number of people in dry season farming.
Prof. Ishiyaku explained that the price margin between grains and vegetables would not be as wide if more people are involved in dry season farming.
He said current global health challenges and insecurity had made it mandatory for Nigeria to increase its efforts at attaining food security.
“In the face of these obvious challenges and growing need for food, dry season farming is the only way out to fill the gaps in food requirement,’’ he said.
He said that statistics obtained by the institute indicated that Nigeria’s food production was stable since the outbreak of COVID-19 and other social challenges in the country.
“We have not been able to attain the level of previous years, but we have not produce lower than what we used to produce before the pandemic and we even recorded about 10 per cent production increase last year.
“This 10 per cent may not necessarily bridge the gap that much, but the effect of the lockdown was not as negative as we assumed.
“It is true we could have produced 20 per cent or 30 per cent higher than we produced in 2019 with the new policies of government, but COVID-19 affected our agricultural production projection,’’ Prof. Ishiyaku said.
He said the institute released three varieties of sweet sorghum grains towards the end of 2020 to further strengthen food security in the country.
The director said the sweet sorghum was used for sugar and syrups production and could be used as edible grains.
Prof, Ishiyaku said the institute also released six improved varieties of maize and new improved variety of cowpea.