The federal government has said it would invest more in agricultural research institutes in the country as well as the extension service system, to enhance further development in the sector, according to a News Agency of Nigeria report.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, said this in Abuja during a dialogue between Africa’s Agricultural Knowledge institutions and development partners.
Adesina noted that technology, which is a product of research, has impacted positively on the agricultural transformation process.
“We have to invest a lot in research and as a country, we are investing more than ever before in research. Look at Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, it released Africa’s first hybrid that gives you five times the yield that farmers were getting before that matures in two and a half years instead of five years and that was developed by Nigerian scientists.”
He also noted that a lot of high yielding rice varieties had been developed through research as well as two newly developed varieties of tropical wheat, which gives six tonnes per hectare, compared to what farmers had in the past.
“That tells you the power of research. And so, by collaborating with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), we are going to make sure that we add better technologies from elsewhere; we will improve links between research and extension.
“We will also use our own research institutes to train and collaborate with others in Africa. We are doing a lot to ensure that our farmers get access to the best technologies.
We are building up a more efficient extension system because in the 80s when the Agricultural Development Programmes funded by the World Bank ended, the extension system collapsed. In the last one year, we have established a Federal Agricultural Extension Department that will have federal and state levels, to get technologies to our farmers”, he added.
According to Adesina, the federal government will also support FARA financially by including it in the 2015 budget. This, he added, was to encourage inter-regional cooperation between African agricultural systems.
It was also reported that the dialogue, an initiative of FARA, was in collaboration with the African Union as well as the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
It seeks to sensitise donor agencies and African governments on the need to increase investment in agricultural research, to further development ensure food security and reduce poverty.
The Chairperson of FARA, Dr. Charity Kruger, who spoke to newsmen at the event, also said that the idea was to strategise ways to upscale agricultural development through research.
“We are planning to scale up agricultural research for development and this requires significant investment and that is why we brought the development partners here to discuss the way forward. You need technology to enhance production.
“We do believe that the kind of agricultural research that we envisage will be able to transform food production not just food but food that targets development issues such as malnutrition. It is through research that we can fortify the food that we produce to target such development issues”, he added.