Union Bank Director tasks on improving groundnut production
By Laz IBEABUCHI
LAGOS-The Executive Director, Corporate, Investment Banking, and Treasury of Union Bank of Nigeria PLC, Mr. Philip Ikeazor has called for the collaboration of Nigerian farmers and International Crop Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in the use of watershed irrigation technique in the production of groundnuts for export.
He made this call recently in India at the Governing Board Meeting of ICRISAT where he has been its member in the last six years. Mr. Ikeazor will complete his tenure of the international agency in July this year.
Speaking on the future of Agriculture in Nigeria, Ikeazor said:” last six years with ICRISAT has nurtured my belief that agriculture is one of the most potent ways to alleviate poverty and create significant income streams for the poor people of the semi-arid tropics”.
He believes that the giant strides and impact made by ICRISAT’s research work on the peasant farmers in India and East Africa and some parts of West Africa would work in Nigeria. Ikeazor is particularly keen on transferring the watershed irrigation technique piloted in India and the recent Groundnut Revolution in Malawi, which had seen a thriving export of improved groundnut to the United Kingdom.
Recalling how Nigeria was once the world’s leading groundnut exporters in the 1960s with the crop accounting for about 70% of the country’s total export earnings, Ikeazor stressed that by working with farmers to grow improved varieties of groundnuts with more resistant to disease, export market demands, and better aflatoxin management to prevent contamination, Nigerian farmers would significantly boost groundnut production and sales. He added that this would create employment and yield significant income for peasant farmers especially in the Northern and the South Western part of the country.
He expressed optimism that with ICRISAT’s reopening of its research office in Kano, Nigeria needs to support the existing bilateral agreement in order to reinstate the country’s former groundnut pyramids.
Ikeazor will be handing over his board membership to Oluwande Muoyo, a chartered accountant, professional banker and currently the Commissioner for Budget and Planning in Ogun State.