Quality Fertiliser and Seeds Will Upscale Green Revolution – Dr Innocent Okuku.
Agriculture is currently standing on the edge of a second green revolution. This revolution will entail fundamental shifts in how the agricultural sector utilises and implements innovative technology to improve output in a sustainable manner and address the need for greater food security globally, says PwC agribusiness report.
In Nigeria, one of the biggest challenges confronting farmers is the quality of the fertiliser, seeds and their availability. These two inputs determine the yields of farmers and the quality of what they produce.
Dr. Innocent Okuku, an agronomist and ceo of IntrioSynergy says that government should look at the fertiliser and seeds space critically if we must achieve food security.
“Government must reposition the fertiliser industry,” he said. “What government needs to do in the fertiliser sub-sector is to identify those people that have made significant investment in setting up responsible businesses in the space and work with them to expand the supply.”
IntrioSynergy, for example, has distribution partners spread across the country, he said, that can deliver product anywhere at a uniform price to all the distributors cross the country. What government needs to do is to support such a channel. If government wants to subsidise the product, it is to work with such partners and say: OK, what can we do to make sure you get it to the people? By so doing, you are strengthening the commercial channels in making product available. We have thousands of retailers across the country and we are still adding more.”
With the government’s laudable objective to subsidise critical inputs, the agronomist worries that what government subsidies have done over the years were counter-productive, saying: “When government brings out subsidy programme, they appoint their own agro-dealers outside the distribution structure. Genuine fertiliser business people who are part of the distribution channel, once they see the structure of the subsidy programme, they jump into it and leave their regular supply channel. But government does not have enough money to subsidise all the fertilisers that farmers need.”
… The seed industry, too
If government rolls out a programme that gives the vast majority of farmers the impression that seeds should be very cheap, maybe as cheap as grains, you will find out that farmers are not going to be interested in buying seeds at the appropriate price. Therefore, investors in good quality seeds production are going to be wary of putting their product in the market.
Again, if government supports people who produce good quality seeds with finance to expand their production, skills, and efficiently distribute the input, and if like roads and rail network are improved, the cost of seeds will drop.
It means the seeds will be available in the market and once farmers start getting better result, it is an incentive to come back and buy again. But once you create an atmosphere where people will rush-people who are supposed to provide good quality seeds will rather buy grains and put it on their channel and distribute. That way, you are sending a wrong signal to the market.