An Agriculture Extension Officer, Mr Lukman Ajiboye, on Thursday called for the imposition of high import tax on imported agricultural commodities so as to boost local production.
Ajiboye told News Agency of Nigeria in Omu-Aran that unregulated importation of agricultural produce, especially raw materials that could be produced locally, was worrisome.
According to him, the proposed high import tax will discourage indiscriminate importation of food products, jute sacks/bags and pulp as well as oil spill absorbents, among others.
He urged the Federal Government to make the procurement of only locally produced raw materials, particularly agriculture-based materials, mandatory so as to boost the citizens’ patronage of local raw materials.
“Preference for imported items, lack of modern markets and inadequate storage facilities are factors militating against agricultural production and farmers’ income in the country,” he said.
Ajiboye, who described poverty as the major challenge facing most farmers in the country, said that a typical Nigerian farmer engaged in subsistence farming and could hardly handle agriculture risk factors.
He underscored the need to increase the funding of the agricultural sector, adding that pragmatic efforts should also be made to educate farmers, especially those in the rural areas, to the new agricultural innovations and technologies to boost their productivity.
“The rural farmers are not exposed to new farming innovations and technologies; they had no other option than to continue to rely on their indigenous expertise.
“In Nigeria, as in other developing nations, the risks facing agriculture include unreliable rainfall, pests and diseases, soil erosion, fertility issues as well as low-yielding crops,” he said.