Agricultural Authority Partners Varsity, Private Farms on Food Production

By Ene Okwanihe

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To improve sustainable domestic food supply in accordance with the president’s declaration of a state of emergency on agriculture, the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) has entered into partnership with organized private farms and universities that have considerable investments in farmlands for crop production.

One of such collaboration is with the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomosho Oyo State, which is already yielding positive results not only for increased maize production but also for attracting PhD students due to the size of the farm and available production equipment.

Currently, result from a 60-acre maize farm under the partnership, which has not yet been harvested, is motivating the university to request more and diversification into the livestock production industry, especially to revamp its 3000 broiler production crumbling facilities on campus.

While thanking NALDA authority for granting the university access to the partnership, Professor Samuel A. Babarinde, Dean of the university’s faculty of Agricultural Sciences, characterized collaboration as “very fruitful and promising,” adding that “we started with maize as the major crop and we look forward to possible enlargement of that partnership in the future.”

As part of the collaboration, the university released 60 acres of land for farming and the labour force needed to carry out agricultural production activities utilizing its 400 Level internship students.

NALDA supplied all the necessary equipment, including tractors, harrows, boom sprayers, planters, harvesters, and maize shellers including fertilizer, seeds, and agrochemicals for the production process.

He described the relationship as “graciously timely,” pointing out that without it; their 400 Level internship students during their practical year would not have access to such agricultural mechanization.

Prof. Tonyi Abegunrin, an Agricultural Engineering expert with a specialisation on irrigation and allied operations, who has also brought in a PhD student to conduct research, stated that the farm is large enough to carry out some useful research.

“If NALDA has not come, we may not have a farm of this size for such research in our university. Now, we don’t need to take our students out of the university before they can see the practical views of what we teach in the class and mechanization encourages specialisation,” he said.

Prof Abegunrin pleaded with NALDA to assist the university with irrigation facilities, including water collection technology, noting that two industrial boreholes could provide enough water to irrigate the field. This will increase crop and vegetable production in the off-season.

Another one of these collaborations is with the Nigeria Farmers’ Group & Cooperative Society (NFGCS) located in Nasarawa State’s Kokona Local Government.

The partnership with the farm resulted in the production of rice in 100 hectares.

A few days ago, NALDA officials and journalists visited the 100-hectare farm to observe harvest activities.

A noteworthy outcome of the visit was that the partnership is increasing production, as the planted faro 44 and 59 produced excellent seeds that might yield over 300 tonnes of paddy.

NALDA supplied the farm with agricultural machinery to automate tasks, resulting in minimal need for physical labour.

Speaking to reporters on the farm, the administrative officer, Mr. Babalota, stated that NALDA was able to provide the farm with machinery and the inputs it needed to produce rice because of the collaboration.

He added that harvesting is at various stages after which, depending on the arrangement with NALDA, processing will begin because the farm is an integrated farm with processing facilities on site.

He said that if the Partnership with NALDA is expanded, the farm will like to embark on irrigation farming using the dam, which the farm built about two years ago to produce not only rice but also maize and other vegetables.

Speaking about the mechanization of the farm, Ms. Hope Christopher, the NFGCS Chief Operations Officer, stated that it has made it easier to handle the challenges associated with manual labour.

Ms Hope said the mechanization process made harvesting easier, cost effective and more efficient.