Prof. Uchechi Ogbuagu, a professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Calabar, has called for the reintroduction of agriculture commodity boards in order to increase revenue from the agricultural sector.
Speaking about the matter with journalists in Calabar, Ogbuagu noted that having boards for commodities such as palm oil, cotton, cocoa, groundnuts and other such produce in which Nigeria has a comparative advantage would help to develop the value chains of these commodities and increase the nation’s gross domestic product.
The country, he argued, must return to the foundries in its academic institutions to produce improved farm tools that make cultivation easier.
He further made his displeasure known regarding the continuous importation of tomato paste and orange juice despite the abundance of primary producers in Nigeria, noting that the country’s lack of storage and processing capabilities has resulted in post-harvest losses.
“Today, tomato pastes are very expensive in the markets, but think of how tomatoes are being wasted in the country, yet, we cannot produce pastes.
“The same is happening with oranges in Benue; so much wastages. We brought ourselves to the present situation we are in now by killing our commodity boards that would have enhanced the processing and marketing of these products,” he said.
Ogbuagu asserted that engineers across the nation could produce the needed tools and that Nigeria must stop relying on other countries since they are competitors, not friends.
The professor called on the federal government to ensure food sufficiency in the country through mechanization and the encouragement of medium-scale farmers to produce for both export and local markets.
“One must commend the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for helping cassava farmers to cultivate more with the aim of converting harvested cassava to ethanol,” he said.