Chief Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, has directed the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) to come-up with more innovative ideas to boost agricultural production in the country.
Ogbeh gave the directive on Tuesday at the 2018 Annual Agricultural Research Review and Planning Meeting held at IAR, Zaria, Kaduna State.
Our correspondent reports that the theme of the workshop is: ‘‘Diversification of the Nigerian Economy through Innovative Agricultural Research and Extension.’’
The minister was represented by Chief Ime Umoh, a Director in Agricultural Extension of the ministry.
He said: ‘‘Innovative agricultural research and extension must engender increased productivity by smallholders so as to increase supply of agricultural products.
‘‘This will satisfy local demands and raw materials for agro-based industries so as to enhance export substitution,’’ he said.
He stressed the need for a deliberate breeding of agricultural and farming practices of the smallholder farmers through innovative research and extension activities to facilitate increase in agricultural production.
The minister charged researchers and extension workers across the country to support and encourage farmers to embrace agriculture as a business.
This, according to him, will enable the smallholder farmers apply new knowledge to fully exploit the potentials that would guarantee increased agricultural activities and income.
In his speech, the Vice-Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Prof. Ibrahim Garba, said the essence of the meeting was to deliberate on burning issues affecting agriculture in Nigeria and proffer solutions to them.
The vice-chancellor, represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics), Prof. Ezra Adamu-Amans, said: ‘‘I strongly believe in the capacity of our collective efforts to revamp Nigerian economy through agriculture.
‘‘I am also aware of the steady progress being made by the institute in the development of improved technologies such as the recent release of Maruca resistance cow pea and Africa Bio-fortified Sorghum.
‘‘These efforts no doubt will greatly improve not only the quality of life of our rural communities but also the nation at large,’’ he noted.
Garba appealed to the ministry of agriculture and other partners of the institute to provide all the needed support to the institute to enable it serve the country better.
The vice-chancellor challenged Nigerian professors in different fields to proper solutions to different challenges bedeviling the country.
‘‘As academicians, we should think about problems around us and also think of ways to solve such problems for the country to move forward.
‘‘As professors in different fields, we must sit back and think on how to come-up with solutions to challenges in different spheres of human life,’’ he advised.
Earlier, the IAR Director, Prof. Ibrahim Umar-Abubakar, said the institute was making frantic efforts within the meager resources available to conduct demand-driven innovative research on its mandate crops.
To his end, he said, the institute was doing everything possible to make agriculture a priority of the Federal Government’s diversification policy
Umar-Abubakar said the institute had been releasing improved seed varieties on annual basis toward enhancing the productivity of agricultural produce across the country.