From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Apparently forecasting that there may not be enough food for the people to feed when Nigeria’s population hits 400 million in 2050, an aviation expert, Captain Mohammed Joji has advocated a new agricultural frontier, using aviation technology for sustainable agriculture, particularly rice production in the country.
Captain Joji was one time Managing Director (MD) of the defunct Nigeria Airways.
He noted that in the next 29 years Nigeria will be number three on the population chart, trailing behind India and China, and so government should not delay to come up with agricultural policy that can sustain the population.
In a chat with Daily Sun at the weekend, the aviation expert said the new technology uses an aircraft called Air Tractor which performs three basic functions of rice and millet planting, fertilizing the the rice as well as spraying insecticides on the farm by aerial operation.
He said the AirTractor is a single engine, single cockpit and a one-man crew aircraft used for agricultural purposes.
“The Aircraft is fitted with a radial engine and uses Avgas for its source of operation. However, Nigeria does not produce Avgas but rely on importation. PMS is a substitute. Although use of PMS as a substitute will lower the quality and efficiency of the equipment, but it is suffice for the type of operation the aircraft is being used for”. He said.
Captain Joji who is the Chairman, Skypower Express Airways Nigeria Limited, explained further, “Forecast for the year 2050 put the Nigerian population at 400 million which makes Nigeria No. 3 in the population table behind India and China. It is for this reason that Nigeria must put in place a coherent and sustainable agricultural policy up to the year 2050 and beyond.
“Nigeria rice consumption is currently pegged at 5 million metric tonnes annually rising rapidly and geometrically at the rate of 7percent annually.
“In view of Nigeria rapidly growing population which is currently at two hundred million people, the demand for rice consumption is staggering.
“At last there is a light at the end of the tunnel. A modern means of mechanised farming using aircraft (AirTractor) is used for producing high quality indigenous rice not only for domestic consumption but also be used for export.
“Studies has shown that over 60 percent of Nigeria arable land is still waiting to be put into use. Furthermore, studies has also shown that Nigeria has the highest water density in West Africa. Additionally, 75 percent of the country’s land mass is in the north with more than 92 percent of arable land”.
Captain Joji said Nigeria has the necessary manpower to turn all natural resources into wealth, disclosing that a company is already using Air Tractor for rice production in the country.
He said the farming is two seasons; dry and wet season, “And the company is currently cultivating over 4,000 hectares of land and producing 20,000 tons of padding rice per season, which is 40,000 metric tons per annum”.