Chemistry Education and Enhancement of Agricultural Production: Implications for Food Security in Nigeria (Published)
This paper discussed the indispensible role of Chemistry Education in agricultural production and food security in the context of economic realities in Nigeria. Nigeria is faced with food crisis as a result of internal problems of insecurity, political conflicts, poor youth orientation, and dwindling national economy among others. The price of staple foodstuff such as rice, garri, maize, wheat are beyond the average Nigerians. The imbalance between agricultural food supply and food intake has forced the growing population to increasingly become dependent on imported foods. The challenges of food security demands effective application of Chemistry Education to change students’ orientation and mind-set towards applying the scientific knowledge and skills acquired to agricultural production and other agricultural businesses. The situation calls for a real exploit of the scientific knowledge via crop improvement; smarter use of agro chemicals like fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and effective management to ensure increased productivity and food security. Chemistry Education constitutes an excellent tool to catalyse the development of the necessary know-how, creative skills and attitudes among youths for enhancement of agricultural productivity. The onus of this paper therefore, lies in the identification and support processes and linkages that promote technological and attitudinal change towards agricultural production as well as the implications of using Chemistry Education to attain food security in Nigeria.
By international standards, a farm that is less than 10 hectares is classified as small scale. More than 80% of farmers in Nigeria are small holder farmers. Agriculture is a major contributor to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and smallholder farmers play a dominant role in this contribution. A small scale farmer depends on his efficiency in the utilization of basic production resources available to him. He makes a significant and important contribution to the national product, about 99%of total crops output. The smallholder farmer is the main producer of 98% of the food consumed in Nigeria with the exception of wheat. Over the years, deliberate efforts have been made to improve agricultural production by Nigerian governments and some foreign bodies but these efforts have not yielded expected results. Much of the failure can be attributed to different constraints that militate against smallholder farming in Nigeria which include economic, political and financial constraints. The failure can also be attributed to the adapted transformation approach to agriculture which is characterized by the introduction of a wide variety of large scale farming and processing technologies. The emphasis is now from the big scale transformation approach to the small scale improvement strategy approach which is attuned to Nigerian age-long farm practice. This study reveals certain constraints militating against efficiency in smallholder farming in Nigeria and suggests many ways to transform the activities of farmers for enhanced productivity. The paper recommends that Nigerian governments should encourage the participation of private sector in supplying farm inputs to ensure steady and timely supply of such inputs, Nigerian Agricultural Extension System should be revamped by funding arrangement to provide mobility, training, incentives and institutional support so that it will increase its services to farmers for enhanced production, among others.