Agriculture experts have called for collaboration among the government, research institutes, farmers and processors in order to reap the economic benefits in the agric Industry.
They acknowledged the importance of creating sustainable agriculture systems that would encourage improved yield while speaking at the International Conference and Expo on Research and Innovations in Agriculture 2019 in Lagos.
Addressing the theme ‘Harnessing Sustainable Agricultural Innovations for Economic Development,’ a former President, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Kanayo Nwanze, said self-sufficiency in the agricultural sector had immense benefits for the country.
He noted that the sector remained the largest employer of labour, adding that the youth should be encouraged to embrace agriculture by making it attractive as an economic activity and money-making venture.
“We should not expect Nigeria’s transformation to be brought out from foreign direct investment and partnership. We must do it ourselves,” Nwanze said.
Policy Officer, Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands, Brian Udoh, urged Nigerian government to develop policies that would distinguish the country in the areas of innovation, research and export of agricultural products.
He said agriculture was an important tool for improving the economy of any country if stakeholders worked together.
Speaking on the topic ‘Breakthorughs in Nigeria research systems leading to agricultural innovations,’ an agricultural extension and rural development expert at the IAR&T, Prof. Lucia Ogunsumi, said the agency communicateed research findings by engaging extension workers to work directly with farmers.
According to her, the research institute also establishes a partnership with farmers to ensure that research discoveries are used to improve their farm processes.
She said extension workers also used information and communication technology tools to expand their reach to farmers across the country.
“Extension workers are using ICT tools like mobile phones, Internet, television and radio to expand their reach to rural farmers in order to accelerate technology transfer,” she said.
Communications Executive at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Victor Saleh, said that advanced tech methodologies were regularly used by the institute to improve the yield of farmers.
According to him, many platforms have been created to establish business opportunities for young entrepreneurs in agriculture.
Through the Agriserve initiative, Saleh said processes were linked directly to farmers before their products were harvested.
He said, “Through the Go Seed initiative, we have a unit on seed commercialisation that makes seeds available to farmers. We are working with seed companies to help them cultivate the right variety of seeds that will increase farmers’ yield. The Go Seed tracker helps to have updated information on the location of seed companies, the variety and quantity of seeds in stock.”
The tracker, according to Saleh, has helped to cut the cost of logistics.