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Nigerian Ti1liuni'! ;. 15. Tuesday, 24 May, 2011

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'Researc institutes, farmers should look beyond govt for support' T

HE Coordinating Director, National Food Re_ serve Agency, Dr Ibrahim LawaI, has appealed to the Federal Government to make agricultural practice not only attractive, but lucrative to the teeming populace in order to reduce the incessant flight of highly skilled personnel from the country. He st~ ted this recently in Ibadan, Oyo State, while addressing farmers and agriculture experts at a progra,,:,me o~garu.sed by Oyo State Ministry of Agriculture In conjunctIOn WIth FADAMA III project in the state. . Speaking through Dr Bayo Akanji, a director of the agenc~ in the I?ad~n o~ce, ~e stated that the practice of agnculture IS still bemg vIewed from the sidelines by many Nigerians, noting that those who are already mto the profession need assistance from the government so that they could have unhindered access to funds and needed farm inputs in order to increase their food production capacity. . He said, "farmers in the country need to be helped wIth both funds and inputs. They need support from both the government and private organisations. Many developmental programmes of research institutes and Agricultural Development Programmes (ADPs) in the country today are being hampered by lack of fund . Research activities and programmes need to be adequately funded in order to achieve expected success. Likewise, agriculture needs to be made attractive and lucra tive because it is a business, otherwise, we would continue to lose skilled personnel to other sectors and countries," he stated. Dr LawaI also tasked research institutes in the country to carry practising farmers along in all their activities~ stressing that, we are all aware of the government pohey on ag nculture which is the practice of the age Ion!? profession on a commercial scale. Therefore, I adVIse our research institutes across the country, as well as experts, to make sure that small scale resource peasant farmers are n~t !eft out in this thinking." The unplicabon of this IS that all our efforts in research and extension should focus on value chain and ~U\..C

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institutes food secured. approam because agriculture is not only a practise, it is also a lucrative business,"he advised. Speaking further, the expert advocated that the spirit of public-private partnership (PPP) should be allowed to Oow m the veins of the nation's agricultural sector, adding that the government alone cannot solve all the problems facing the sector. H.e ha? tl~ to say, "I ~h to suggest that in the spirit of public-pnvate partnership, the Agricultural Development Programmes (ADPs) should link or invite tl1e participation

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enough for Nigerians' T has been observed that rice fields availabl e in both' 1<wa ra and Niger sta tes are enough to produce large quantities of rice for the consut:Jlption of the entire West African sub-region. A former Com mi ssioner of Agricultu re in Kwara Sta te, Professor' Mohammed Yissa Gana, stated this at the opening ce remony of a-two day human resource development conference which took place at Agricultural and Rura l Management Tra ining Institute (ARMTI), Ilorin, with the theme:-"Promotion of commercial agriculture in Nigeria: Implications for human resource development". Professor Gana added that despite the availability of these fie lds in the north central states, Nigeria still expends billions of naira ,9n imp<?,datioq.,9.f rice from Thailand ana '

oth e r nations of the world. According to him, "Nigeria has an esiimated 99million hectares of cultivatable land for agriculture w ith only 30per cent und er cultiv ation. That means the co untry has about 60milJion uncultiva ted but cultivatable hectares of land scattered across the country." He said though the country had all the potentials' to embark on co mmercia I agricu l ture, it lacked the requisite technology to do same, addin g that, " Nigeria has a young population that is either unemployed or underemployed who could be trained for commercial agriculture. He furtl1er observed tl1at the country has large volume of both surface and underground water for irrigation for ~-season agri~ulture! stressmg that sourcmg 10nS'ierm Cfedit faciliile~f .

from financial institutions in Nigeria had been a pro\:r lem as Nigeria banks. did not understand the nittygritty of agricultural banking. He listed land availability, technology, access to credit faciliti es, access to power and infrastructure as some of the requirements for commercial agriculture. Other requirements according to him are provision of irrigation for all year round farming activities, availability of storage facilities, creation of alliance witl1 processors and ready human resource. In his remark, the state HeadofService(HOS), Alhaji Dabarako Mohammed said "it is my belief that collec: tively, we have all d.iscovered that agriculture is the mainstay of tl1e economy where more than 70 per cent of the population is engaged and as well .prqviding tl,l~, much needed raw materials lor our agr6-aliied' indusirieil."

of private entrepreneurs into funding of their activities or progr=es. Government should also create an enabling and conducive environment to see that the ideas that are being generated by experts were made to work and should be judiciously implemented. This would

go a long way to help our farmers and guarantee agricu ltural development as well as boost food production in the country and tl1e same advice goes for research institutes. " We should realise that as agriculture becomes a business and more financially rewarding, agricultural research and ex tension organisations should also start looking inward in order to generate funcls for tlleir services among other dientele. (that is, end-users of their effort and services.) In this regard, they shoul<:l also develop new ievenue generat路ing mechanisms that would encourage and motiva te practising farmers to do more so as to bear some of their service costs," he affirmed. On his ad vice for the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), which is the umbrella body for researd1 institutes in the coun-

try, .th~ ~ boss said that ARCN should be more pragmatic mIts approach towards its support for researm activities so as to solve major problems confronting the practise of agriculture across the length and breadth of the country. '''The ADPs should conduct fresh diagnostic surveys that would bring out most of the field level problems of our fam1ers. In such a way, research will be geared towards solving the problems of the end users and by so doing, the confidence of farmers in our ability as agricultural scientists and extension~rs wOl.dd be rekindled and tl1e future of our professIon will be bnghter,"he further posited. On what he expected from the National Food Reserve Agency, Dr Lawal urged the agency to live up to her mandate ~ a federal coordinating organ for agricultural extension, mput support, food production, processing, storage and marketing. He, however, tasked fam1ers and agriculture experts in the country to pray for the ageney so that the NFRA Bill could be signed so that the agency can once become effectively functional. .

NDE to give training manual to Johnson Babajide, farmers would that the new approach Lokoja ensure prop er

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HE National Directorate of Employment (NDE) is planning to give agricultural training manuals to farmer s in order to address the challenges of agricultural production and rural jobcreation in the North Central zone. According to the press s tatement issued by the Information Officer of NDE in Kogi State office, a copy made available to Tribune Agriculture, he stated that the resoluti on was passed during a oneday working seminar for officers of the Rural Employment Department

of the NDE drawn from Nasarawa, Ben u e, Kwara, Plateau, Kogi and Niger states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. The meet ing, acco rding to him, a lso explored the use of the faciliti es of the RiverBasin Authorities to boost food production, wh ile crea ting jobs through capacity building. " Wh en produced, the manual would also identify the peculiar agroall ied en terprises an d other economic rural offfarm endowments within the zone". Kogi State Coordinator of the NDE, Barrister Nnamdi Asomugha, said

documenta ti on of all stakeholders in the rural employment activities in the zo ne in order to enhance coll a boration and synergy for increased food produ ction and job. creation in the sector. Barrister Asomugha stated that the NDE plans to strengthen rura l employment as a deliberate strategy to check the ruralurban drift in quest of white collar job, adding that the NDE has built Agricultural Skills Trainin g Centre in Igalamela and Yagba East Local Govemment Areas of the state as a deliberate plan to propel the new strategy. "Similar training centres have also been built across the country," he added.

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE, 24 MAY, 2011  

'Research institutes, farmers should look beyond govt for support'

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