University, USA supported by USAID’s Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project, DFID’s Agricultural Policy Research in Africa and Bill and Melinda Gates ‘Guiding Investments in Sustainable Agriculture in Africa’ is focused on strengthening the capacity of young Nigerian scholars to conduct agricultural research and is most recently doing this through its collaborative land access study in the country.
The land access study includes the exploration of the growth of medium and large scale farmers and the ripple effect on small scale farmers. Medium and large scale farmers are grouped as agricultural land owners or controllers of five hectares and above.
Over 40 young Nigerian scholars (including some postgraduate students at Master and PhD levels) most of who have basic background in agriculture but lack the practical skills to conduct empirical research are being trained by MSU Professors in Nigeria through the ongoing research activity.
Cyprian Ikechukwu, who holds Msc in Agricultural Economics, told Daily Trust that as a major in agricultural economics, the training and participation in the land access research for agriculture and the survey instrument development has strengthened his capacity to do good research.
Ikechuckwu stressed that the training afford them the opportunity to learn research skills that were not taught in school, adding that there is a disconnect between what is really out there and what they learnt in the class rooms.
Miss Hanatu Usman, one of the participants from Kaduna State stated that the MSU Programme was very interesting and quite challenging, adding that “it gave us an avenue to meet with different people” with similar circumstances. She noted that the study gave her the platform to better organize her research skills including how to manage her time and have enhanced her understanding of whom the real farmers are and the issues around them. “It was quite an experience” she said.
Other participants like Abdullahi T. Lawan from Kwara State and Afolabi Maryam from Ogun State toldDaily Trust during one of the capacity building sessions in Abuja last week that the trainings they received to participate in the land access research were very educative and interacting, something that have changed their lives.
Mr. Lawan pointed out that it has helped him and would be beneficial to his career as he feels better equipped to do contribute to providing agricultural policy research, adding that the experience was rewarding-something his colleague Miss Afolabi too shares.
Iredele Ogunbayo, a PhD Student of the University of Ibadan, who doubles as co-coordinator of the field work activities, described the journey so far as being ‘quite an experience.’
He emphasized that the study is very relevant at this particular time of the country development in the sense that the focus on agriculture has been reemphasized while there is de-emphasis on oil.
“For land access, we all know that land is a limited resource, and population is ever increasing, land is limited, fixed, hence the important of this study. Land is a primary source for any agricultural project, so the availability, the access, the tenure system- how farmers acquire land, sell land all processes that go into the entire land dynamics of the country is actually very important at this time” he said.
Speaking after the training session in Abuja, Drs. Oyinkan Tasie and Milu Muyanga, both Assistant Professors, International Development, at Michigan State University, USA told Daily Trust that the project is part of agricultural land research work in Africa.
The University Professors pointed out that one of MSU’s ongoing research in the country seeks to contribute to the understanding of what segment of the population really control land in Africa. Dr. Muyanga highlights that “from our analysis and studies from the country where it started- Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi and Ghana- we find that there is a new class of farmers in Africa-the middle class who are very different from the small farmers in terms of land size, levels of mechanization, labour and even management. Dr. Oyinkan Tasie explained that the current study seeks to understand what the situation is in Nigeria, and that the research team is working in close collaboration with the Governments of Kaduna and Ogun States through their respective Ministries of Agriculture.
Yakubu Gora, the Director, Planning Research and Statistics, Kaduna State Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in an interview with Daily Trust in Abuja on the project said the ministry was collaborating with Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project and Michigan State University, USA on several projects that will benefits the state not only on the land resource survey but including a number of projects.
“You cannot have good policy if you don’t have good data to work with because the foundation is the data that we have at hand. So we need accurate data from this enumerator s which will be used in policy formulation in the state. Even in project implementation also if you have wrong data you cannot implement the right project,” said Gora.
Dr. Oyinkan Tasie is optimistic that the collaborative research work would find a place in internationally peer reviewed journals given the cutting edge approach, and will certainly be disseminated to relevant stake holders at the Federal, State and Local Governments to contribute to informing policy on agriculture in the country