Stakeholders present at the International Conference and Expo on Research and Innovations in Agriculture (ICERIA) have unanimously agreed that research and innovations in the agricultural sector is key to the nation’s economic development and that collaboration is essential to sustainable agricultural growth.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the conference which brought together stakeholders and experts in both the public and private sector called on the Federal Government to develop policies that would distinguish the country in the areas of innovations, research and exports of agricultural products.
The communiqué signed by Jim Rex-Lawson Moses, Editor, Agrobusiness Times also stated that government must ensure sustainable financing of all sectors involved in agriculture research and development and that funds are also needed to scale up off-taking of research findings from the shelves of researchers and establishment of demonstration farms.
“The sector remains the largest employer of labour, accordingly, government should make agriculture attractive to young men and women to appreciate it as an economic activity and money-making business because people still think of agriculture as hoe and cutlass business.
The communiqué further stated that farmers should engage more in integrated farming to save cost and maximise profit while agricultural centres should commence work on waste to wealth programmes and projects.
The conference further recommended that collaboration among the government, research institutes, farmers and processors in order to reap the economic benefits in the agricultural industry is key.
It noted that the tripod relationship will also ensure that agro industries are sited in rural areas where they can add value than where they are currently located as this is germane to enhancing food security and economic advancement.
The stakeholders further advised government to set up training institutes for farmers because lots of Nigerians are getting into farming without proper training and as a result they most times end up getting their fingers burnt.
“Farmers within the agriculture sector must be organised. There is also the need to build a bridge between farmers and research institutes.
“Research institutions need to understand the business of commercialising research outcomes and innovations. They also need to understand research, synergy, collaboration and its benefits.
“The government should hands off the business of agriculture to the private sector. When coming up with policies, farmers should be part of the process because the high and mighty really has no business in making decisions for farmers; farmers should be allowed to proffer solutions to how the business of food production can be made viable for them and the nation.”
It stated further that government should handover moribund farm settlements to farmers associations as they are very willing to revive and turn them to farm estates.
“Government should continue with the current border closure while planning for innovative ways of guarding the nation’s borders to protect our economy rather than closing them completely.
It noted that research institutes should not allow profit making to overtake their mandates that most research outcomes and innovations in agriculture are beyond the reach of Nigerian farmers as they are very expensive.
“Accordingly, research institutes should come up with commercially viable products. Agriculture in tertiary institutions should be designed to be a profitable venture in order to make it attractive to young Nigerians.”