Investments in agricultural research will go a long way in ameliorating Nigeria’s food system and tackling the challenges posed by climate change as well as the novel COVID-19 pandemic.
This was the position of the National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI) at its recently held 2020 Farmers’ Field Day and Technology Exhibition at the Moore Plantation, Ibadan, Oyo State.
The event was themed “Sustainable Response to Post-COVID-19 Through Improved Agricultural Technology”.
The Institute submitted that research and modern technologies were critical to the improvement of agricultural productivity in the country.
Speaking in his keynote address, Head of Station, NCRI, Dr. Danbaba Nahemiah noted that to effectively capture the government’s objective on food security there was a need to invest in research resources to mitigate climate change-related challenges.
In his remarks, Nahemiah said that research institutes were critical to this task, to develop innovative ways of boosting the country’s food sector and promoting Good Agricultural Practices.
He said, “Improvement of agricultural productivity through the adoption of good agronomic practices and improved technology has to become critical
“The time is here for research for development (R4D) organizations to invest research resources towards mitigating climate change-related challenges and develop a food system that is resilient across food-deficit countries including Nigeria, to forestall food security shocks and civil unrest”.
Nahemiah added that the Farmers’ Field Day and Exhibition was a deliberate effort by the Institute to allow researchers, farmers, SMEs and other development partners to reexamine the country’s food system due to the COVID-19 lockdown and the recent unrest across the country.
In the post-COVID-19 era, he pointed that ensuring a sustainable food supply chain in Nigeria was also one of the most important challenges that must be tackled headlong in the aftermath of the pandemic.
“The priority would be to invest in agro-processing for rural communities, which will significantly support rural youths and women and reduce rural-urban migration.
“Secondly, small scale farmers should be supported with improved seeds and other inputs to enhance both their farm productivity and market of quality of food they produce. Also, market access should be improved through e-commerce promotion among youths, as service providers for farmers and SMEs.
“Thirdly, deliberate efforts by governments at all levels to implement aggressive infrastructural development (road network, logistics, etc), so that food can be moved across the country with minimal losses,” Nahemiah proffered.
NCRI and its partners have over the years supported small and medium scale agro-processing entrepreneurs to develop successful businesses in rice, soybeans, sugarcane and other crops processing.
This, according to the station head, had effectively contributed to employment generation, food security and improved rural and sub-urban livelihoods.
Currently, the Institute, which has its headquarters at Badeggi, Niger State, also has 10 outstations across the country actively involved in crop production, research and extension services.
Nehemiah restated the commitment of the NCRI to deliver sustainable food systems and flexible technology that will support Nigerian farmers to improve both vertical and horizontal productivity with minimal impact on the environment.
Representing the Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, chairman of the occasion, Engr. Dr. M.O Ogunbiyi, who also doubles as the Zonal Director of FMARD, Southwest called for partnership between public and private stakeholders to boost the agricultural sector.
On behalf of NCRI’s governing council, the ED/CEO and the entire staff, Nahemiah presented Acha crop to farmers in Southwest Nigeria.
Acha is a cereal believed to be mostly grown in the North-central region of Nigeria and it is arguably the oldest cereal in Africa.
The cereal nutritionally contains a good amount of dietary fibre, protein, minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamins such as folic acid and vitamin B3. It is also low in calories, fat and sodium.
Participants including reps from FMARD and research institutes, farmers, students and stakeholders in the agro-allied sector were taken to the field to inspect the Acha crop at its maturity stage, as part of the significant take-off of the Farmers’ Field Day.
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