Jacob Erikstrup, the Minister/Counsellor of Denmark in Lagos, said on Thursday that for Nigeria to redouble her agricultural produce, the government should increase the education of its farmers.
Erikstrup told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos that Denmark had become one of the world top meat and milk producing countries because of farmers’ education.
He said: “Nigeria is a land of opportunities for farmers and if the farmers’ potential is well harnessed. The potential in Nigeria is large.
“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.”
The Minister/Counsellor at the Royal Danish Consulate-General in Lagos added that the government’s commitment to farmers’ education would attract more young Nigerians to farming.
Erikstrup, who lauded the various levels of government’s commitment to the development of agriculture, maintained that the education of Nigerian farmers would make the governments to achieve bumper food production.
He said: “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.”
The World Bank (2012) estimates the population of Nigerian to be above 160 million people, the largest in Africa, almost accounting for 47 per cent of West Africa’s total population.
As the population increases, the country’s demand for food increases, while the ability to produce food diminishes because pressures from the growing population in form of desertification, climate change and erosion are also impacting on the already diminishing resources and further threatening food production.
Food security involves access and availability of food stuff, stability of supplies and the quality of the diet.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation, International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme (2013), Nigeria have 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.
This shows that Nigeria is facing the challenge of unbalanced diet leading to various deficiency symptoms.
Also among the 109 countries assessed by the Global Food Security Index (2015), Nigeria is 91st with a score of 37.1 based on indices of affordability, availability, quality and safety.