Groundnut remains an important crop for resource-poor farmers in Nigeria, crucial for their economic prosperity and nutritional security. Facing up to the challenge of reviving the country’s groundnut industry, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) commits to use its research expertise and partnerships to explore opportunities to address the constraints facing groundnut production in Nigeria.
“ICRISAT is fully committed to collaborate with Nigeria’s national agricultural research system (NARS) in increasing the income generation and livelihoods of farmers by increasing productivity and sustainability of groundnut-based systems through increased adoption of farmer- and market- preferred groundnut varieties,” said ICRISAT Director General William Dar. He added that ICRISAT’s technologies are ready for large-scale deployment and dissemination in Nigeria. “Improved varieties coupled with farmer participatory evaluations and community seed production schemes linked to available seed companies can ensure availability of high quality seeds to farmers for maximum yields and incomes,” Dr Dar stressed.
ICRISAT’s expression of commitment was in response to the call for collaboration to boost Nigeria’s groundnut production to export levels by Executive Director, Corporate, Investment Banking, and Treasury of Union Bank of Nigeria PLC, Philip Ikeazor. 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, completing his tenure in July this year.
Mr Ikeazor’s challenge also solicited a strong response from fellow Nigerian and former ICRISAT Board chair, Dr Uzo Mokwunye, now Development Strategy Consultant specializing in natural resources management, capacity development, and innovation systems in agriculture. Dr Mokwunye expressed his support in pushing forward this initiative to introduce science-based innovations to revive Nigeria’s groundnut industry, by offering to link ICRISAT with Nigeria’s NARS as well as with the Agriculture Ministry. He emphasized the urgency to work together to significantly boost groundnut production and sales in the country, create employment and improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers, and reclaim Nigeria’s former groundnut glory.
ICRISAT is now in the process of developing a proposal to concretize the proposed collaboration with the Nigerian government. The proposal will highlight the benefits of the collaboration, expected roles of all partners, and scaling up of ICRISAT’s impact-oriented and farmer-centered research such as growing improved groundnut varieties and better aflatoxin management to meet export market demands.
Nigeria was once the world’s leading groundnut exporter in the 1960s with the crop accounting for about 70% of the country’s total export earnings. However, groundnuts fell from the country’s export list by the end of the 1970s, aggravated by severe drought and disease infestations.
ICRISAT is expected to work with the NARS to enable farmers to grow improved varieties of groundnuts with more resistance to diseases, higher export market demands, and better aflatoxin management to prevent contamination. A revival of the vibrant groundnut industry would help generate employment opportunities and improve the livelihoods of millions of Nigeria’s smallholder farmers.