Prof. Adeolu Ayanwale of the Department of Agricultural Economics, Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ile-Ife, has described agriculture as a powerful tool for poverty reduction.
Mr Ayanwale made the observation in Ile-Ife, while delivering the 327th inaugural lecture of the university on Wednesday.
News Agency of Nigeria reports that the topic of the lecture is “Produce, Innovate or Be Poor.’’
Mr Ayanwale said that World Bank statistics had revealed that for every one per cent growth in agriculture, poverty declined by as much as two per cent.
He stressed that due to the fact that the vast majority of poor people lived in rural areas and depended on agriculture and natural resources for their livelihoods, investment in agriculture was, therefore, the most efficient way to target this category of citizens.
“Investments in the agricultural sector also contribute to overall economic growth by increasing efficiency in the marketing chain, reducing the share of poor people’s income spent on food and enabling them to purchase other goods and services.
“Most of the world’s remaining arable lands and agribusiness will substantially reduce hunger and create a more resilient global food supply for everyone if committed, efficient production of food on a sustainable basis is vigorously pursued,’’ he said.
The professor, however, noted that the current agricultural production processes of the country were largely inefficient and, therefore, lacked the potential to lift farming families out of poverty in a sustainable way.
Mr Ayanwale said that in efforts to break the vicious cycle of poverty afflicting agricultural households, the cooperative culture of collaboration with other stakeholders to generate mutually beneficial innovations ought to be encouraged and sustained among producers.
He said that government at all levels should also provide enabling macro and micro environment for profitable farm production, which was necessary to facilitate sustained exit from the poverty trap.
Besides, Mr Ayanwale stressed that for the Federal Government’s efforts in the agriculture sector to yield positive results, innovations should be encouraged.
“Over the years, the focus of agricultural production improvement has been directed at alleviating or reducing poverty amongst farming households.
“Empirical evidence has shown that alleviating poverty amongst farming households does not guarantee their continued stay out of poverty.
“Rather, recent evidence suggests that the use of innovations generated through innovation platforms has the potential of not only lifting them out of poverty but also enabling them to create wealth.
“There is overwhelming evidence that the adoption of innovation in the agricultural prosecution process that is driven through innovation platforms ensures ownership of the innovations.
“It also facilitates easier and faster adoption, which leads to higher outputs, better asset accumulation and ultimately, greater wealth creation,’’ he added.