The Minister/Counsellor of Denmark, Mr Jacob Erikstrup, on Thursday advised that there was need for Nigeria to intensify the education of farmers on basic practices that would enhance their productivity and by implication, agriculture’s contributions to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate.
The minister was quoted as pointing out that the improved level of farmers’ education in his country had helped to turn Denmark into one of the world top meat and milk producing countries.
“Erikstrup noted that given the natural endowments of Nigeria, the country remained a land of opportunities for farmers, adding that if the farmers’ potential is well harnessed, it would translate to huge socio-economic benefits to the country.
He explained: “But, Nigeria really needs to increase the education of her farmers. Experience has shown that a very high number of Nigerian farmers still practice farming based on what they inherited from their parents.
“In Denmark, for instance, for anyone to be a farmer, he or she must get the required education, otherwise, you are not allowed to be a farmer. So, for Nigeria to also be able to produce a large quantity and quality of agricultural produce, the government must give priority to the education of its farmers,’’ Erikstrup added.
The Minister pointed out further if Nigerian governments showed more commitment to farmers’ education, it would attract more young Nigerians to farming and curb the menace of growing youth unemployment in the country
The envoy, who commended recent initiatives of the various tiers of governments’ commitment to grow the agricultural, maintained that farmers’ education would make the governments to increase capacity of farmers in crop and livestock production.
Erikstrup explained further: “There are a lot of things that Nigerian farmers would learn and benefit from being educated, before becoming farmers. Currently, many Nigerian farmers are practicing farming based on what they learnt and inherited from their families.
“With the right education, these farmers will be able to optimise the use of improved seeds, improve production, apply fertiliser, practice organised crop rotation, as well as prevent pest and disease infestation,’’ he added
Available data produced by the Food and Agricultural Organisation, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) (2013), Nigeria has an energy intake of 1730Kcal and an average protein supply of 64g capita per day, far below the 2500 – 3400Kcal minimum recommended daily intake per day.
Similarly, a research by the Global Food Security Index (GFSI) (2015) among the 109 countries puts Nigeria at the 91st position with a score of 37.1 based on indices of affordability, availability, quality and safety.
These statistics clearly showed that the country remained critically exposed to the risks of unbalanced diet and the associated nutritional deficiency symptoms.