The need to mechanize Agriculture in Benue State
At the mention of the clause “Food Basket”, every mind must think of Benue State as far as Nigeria is concerned. We do not own oil wells like Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom etc but we own “food wells”, a rare gift of nature. Benue State, no doubt, has a comparative advantage in food production but how advantageous are we making use of this?
Studies reveal that Malaysia, got oil palm nuts from Nigeria some decades ago and today, are the biggest exporter of oil palm products, how did they do this?
This I will not leave a rhetorical question as the answer is too obvious: Mechanization. And if I may explain a little, mechanization is the use of modern machines and inputs to boost production. Since we are talking agriculture, this might involve the use of tractors mounted with different implements, the use of modern farm inputs like fertilizers, high breed seeds, herbicides, pesticides and insecticides.
Unfortunately, as pronounced as Benue State is in agricultural production, majority of the farmers are still using human labor and local implements for farming. Only a few persons are fortunate to have access to modern day agricultural machines and inputs but at a very exorbitant cost. Government effort seems to be grossly inadequate at the moment and the private sector and wealthy individuals too have refused to take advantage of the rich agricultural potential. Though to a large extent there seems to be more awareness now on the use of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides but these are not easy to come by.
Conclusively let me challenge the government, private sector and other private individuals to take advantage of the huge potential of Benue State in Agriculture and make a wise investment in it. If Benue State can be the “Food Basket of the Nation” with local farming, then I think it can become the “Food Basket of Africa” if our agriculture is mechanized!