A group of scientists, researchers, technology innovators and agribusiness owners have charged the government and those in the private sector to create a more robust partnership that will propagate research milestone and innovations in order to have an economically efficient agriculture sector.
The group who converged at the International Conference and Expo on Research and Innovations in Agriculture (ICERIA) on Thursday in Lagos on the theme; Harnessing Sustainable Agriculture Innovations for Economic Development said that one of the many challenges facing agriculture is that farmers do not have easy access to the markets.
The group also identified that for agriculture to achieve its full potentials governments at all levels must do all it can to focus on the internal market; production of what the country really consumes and decentralize the sector for efficiency and productivity.
As other developed economies are investing heavily in research in finding better ways to improve crop yields and innovating new technological ideas if 85 percent of farmers in the country who are smallholder farmers producing 90 percent of the food consumed lacks the needed knowledge about their farming activities, the agriculture sector may be redundant.
Speaking at the conference, Kanayo Nwanze, former president, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) who delivered his keynote said that scientists and researchers should take it as a duty to urge the government to initiate formidable programmes that will revolutionize the agriculture sector for the benefit of all.
He said, “We need the government to play its role, the government does not farm, the government should stay out of farming because the government needs to provide enabling environment putting together the right policies and institutions to implement them and that is where research also has its role.
“When we talk about research, we are only looking at biological and physical sciences, what about the social sciences. They (researchers and scientists have a responsibility to advise the government to develop policies that are sound so that the government can reduce its interest in agriculture to ensure they are applied through the needed institutions and that where the partnerships exist.”
Nwanze stressed that drastic measures should be taken by the government in making sure that markets and agro-allied industries should be situated to areas where crops are harvested to avoid wastage and also reduce the burdens on farmers in transporting their goods to the markets.
Nwanze added there is a need for a tripartite form of partnership between government, private sector and researchers to take the research conducted and technologies invented in agriculture and the knowledge down to the smallholder farmers who are at the bottom of the ladder to ensure that everybody in the Agric ecosystem is carried along.
“It is only when we can prove to the government that research, science and technology matters by taking these products in making sure it reaches the small producers to change lives and that where business comes in.”
By Kenneth Afor