By Ginika Okoye
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has called on the Federal Government to increase its investment in agriculture to enable Nigeria to regain its place in the sector.
Principal Programme Officer on Agriculture, ECOWAS, Mr Ernest Aubee, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.
Aubee said that more investment in agriculture would attract and encourage more youths and women into the venture.
He said that technology that would ensure good quality seeds, fertiliser, good storage and packaging facilities, good transportation and marketing facilities should also be encouraged.
Aubee commended the Federal Government for its agricultural policy, `Green Alternative’, and said that improved investment in the sector would help to translate the plan into reality.
“Nigeria has been a leader in agriculture in the past but it went down at some point and oil and gas took over.
“Nigeria needs more investment in the agriculture sector now. All that is needed is more investment to transform agricultural plans into practical reality.
“ They also need to modernise, mechanise where possible.
“The government needs to develop the markets; a lot of production is going on but they need to address some value chain issues like storage.
“For some agricultural commodities like fruits and vegetables, if you do not have proper storage, their shelf life is very short so they get spoilt.
“They have to address the issue of post-harvest losses to reduce that so that farmers can get benefits from their hard-work and if that is do/ ne, it can even bring down the cost of food,’’ he said.
The programme officer also commended the government for its efforts toward ensuring self-sufficiency in rice production in the country.