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Soil-specific fertilizers, switching from grains to seeds among key measures to boost food production in Nigeria – Ibrahim Maigari 

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Ibrahim Maigari, the Chief Executive Officer of Rice Afrika, has outlined eight research-backed strategies aimed at significantly boosting food production in Nigeria and addressing the current food inflation crisis caused by insufficient agricultural output.  

Some of these proposals include enabling farmers to access land preparation equipment, switching from planting grains to seeds, enforcing stricter regulations on farming chemicals, and providing farmers with soil-specific and crop-specific fertilizers. 

Speaking as a guest on the ThePressNG ‘From Farm to Market’ webinar on Saturday, Maigari highlighted several disruptive events between 2020 and 2023 that have adversely affected food production.

These include the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, currency redesign, removal of fuel subsidies, the Russian-Ukraine war, heightened insecurity in food-producing regions, and severe flooding. 

Maigari emphasized the urgent need to boost food production to combat the food inflation driven by these challenges and the underproductivity of Nigerian farmers. He stressed that the government must play a pivotal role in implementing these strategies to ensure their success. 

Delving deeper into his proposal aimed at ramping up food production in the country, Maigari highlighted the provision of access to land preparation equipment as one of the key strategies.  

He explained that if smallholder farmers, who constitute about 80% of food producers in Nigeria, have access to such equipment, they will be able to cover larger areas of land with less human effort, thereby increasing crop yields.  

“Over 80% of smallholder farmers prepare their land manually. When you prepare land manually, it means you are using human power. It limits your capacity, it limits the size of what you are going to do, it limits quality,” he explained.  

Maigari noted that using land preparation equipment has the potential to boost crop yields by 50% while using less water and fewer seeds. 

Secondly, the Rice Afrika CEO proposed that food production can be significantly increased if farmers switch from planting grains, which is currently common practice in Nigeria, to planting seeds.  

He highlighted that around 90% of Nigerian farmers plant grains, which results in lower yields compared to planting seeds specifically bred for higher germination rates and better overall productivity. 

Maigari’s third proposal for boosting food production in the country involves implementing stricter regulations on the chemicals used in farming operations.  

He pointed out that approximately 72% of these chemicals are counterfeit, significantly hindering farmers’ productivity.

Ensuring the authenticity and quality of agricultural chemicals would help improve crop yields and overall farm efficiency. 

“Over 72% of the chemicals in the market are substandard – are fake. When the farmer does not have the right chemicals to kill all those weeds, these weeds compete for nutrients with the crop,” he explained.  

The fourth proposal of the Rice Afrika CEO to boost food production in Nigeria involves providing Nigerian farmers with access to soil-specific and crop-specific fertilizers.

He noted that the government’s palliative interventions, typically one-size-fits-all approaches, do not yield optimal results.

He stressed that tailored fertilizers significantly enhance food production. 

For the fifth proposal, Maigari stated that Nigerian farmers should adopt the best agronomy practices, moving away from traditional methods passed down through generations.

He called for the reintroduction of farm extension agents nationwide to help achieve this transition, which would further increase food production. 

Another suggestion he offered was the provision of mechanized harvesting for farmers, highlighting its potential to greatly improve productivity.  

To illustrate, he explained that it takes 24 hours for 30 people to harvest one acre of rice using crude implements like sickles, whereas a small combine harvester can complete the same task in 30 minutes. 

On the seventh proposal, Maigari suggested that the government ensure Nigerian farmers have access to markets.

He noted that most farmers in the country operate on a subsistence level, and access to markets would promote diversification into other crops, boosting overall food production. 

The eighth proposal Maigari suggested was for the government to recover, refurbish, and reorganize irrigable lands across the country.

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