By Eileen Ihemadu
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has challenged agricultural research institutes to support the federal government agricultural development programme aimed at diversifying the Nigerian economy.
He said government needs their support to attain food security, and raise agriculture to become the mainstay of Nigerian economy.
Audu spoke during a 2-day working visit to the three research institutes in Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.
The three inspected agricultural research institutes situated in the Agricultural Complex of the University are Institute for Agricultural Research(IAR), National Animal Production Research Institute(NAPRI) and the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services(NAERLS).
Ogbeh said, “I am traumatized by poverty in the land especially on the issue of ever growing youth unemployment, the sad development is brought about by long neglect of agriculture and adoption of wrong economic policies that favoured massive importation at the expense of local production and industrialization. I believe that bad as the situation is, it can still be fixed with strong determination and adoption of relevant science and technology”.
He commended the institutes for the giant strides they have made in developing varieties of improved seedlings for maize, rice, sorghum, groundnut, cotton, cow-pea and in livestock which includes goats, sheep, cattle as well as development of different species of grass feeds for cattle; not forgetting improvements achieved through tissue culture on rice, cassava, bananas, cashew, grasses.
He reiterated his stand that the federal government was committed to solving the festering farmers-herders crisis by working with willing state governments to establish safe havens where the pastoralists will have access to guaranteed clean water, health facilities, and nutritious pasture for their animals.
Earlier on, the Vice Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Prof Ibrahim Garba, praised the minister for spending 2 days to get firsthand knowledge about the institutes.
He lamented the lack of appreciation of research work in the country saying there are piles of research works by professors all over the place.
He drew attention of the minister to the problem of outdated equipment and pleaded with him to help improve funding of the Institutes.