Lagos - Olukayode Oyeleye, the Special Adviser to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, says the Federal Government has assembled researchers to formulate up-to-date data for relevant economic indices.
He said that existing data were either over-exaggerated or outdated.
Oyeleye, said on Friday in Lagos, that the ministry had sent officers to the field to generate accurate data.
``Under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), efforts are being made to discontinue the use of old data that, over the years, have been based on estimates and mere annual extrapolation of data.
``The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Akinwumi Adesina, has embarked on an aggressive drive to generate and disseminate reliable data suitable for planning and programme execution in a transparent manner,’’.
To this end, he said, inventories of critical components were being taken.
According to him, farmers' population hitherto used to be estimated, but that since the last quarter of last year, under the Growth Enhancement Support, the ministry has captured data of 3.5 million farmers nationwide.
He said the project was still ongoing as it was expected to continue annually over the next three years.
``The aim is to generate reliable data on the farmers, their locations, their commodities, volume produced, land mass cultivated in hectares, volume of inputs required and how to link them to markets and agro-processing centres.
``On commodity basis, studies have commenced to generate data that reflect realities. These data will serve as veritable tools for decision making,’’
In rice, for instance, he said that a national baseline survey that would help either to validate or refute the existing figures attributed to Nigeria as annual production had commenced.
In cocoa production, Oyeleye said that Nigeria had, for instance, hitherto been quoted as producing 430 metric tonnes.
The country was said to have been cultivating this figure over one million hectares of farmland.
``These have been the figures quoted even by Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO).
``The reality, however, is that the cocoa survey of 2007 has shown that the figure on farmland dedicated to cocoa production is 650 hectare space.
``Following the concern shown by the minister now, it has been found that the annual cocoa production is between 240 and 250 metric tonnes.
``To raise production to one million tonnes in the next few years, the minister has commenced action on growth enhancement support.
``He has also ordered the free distribution of improved varieties of locally-bred planting materials while he is making efforts to design social fertiliser for cocoa farmers.''
These interventions, he added, could only be effective now that helpful data were being generated and the right targets could now be reached effectively.
He also said that similar interventions were going on in other commodities such as cotton, sorghum, oil palm, corn, soya and cassava.
``Getting these more realistic data will bring to the fore the gross neglect that agriculture has suffered over the years and the need to revamp the sector,’’ Oyeleye said.