The National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Service (NAERLS) has advocated improved agricultural research on crop varieties to grow the economy and avert food insecurity.
Prof. Mohammed Othman, the Executive Director of NAERLS made this known on Wednesday during a two-day capacity building for North Western States Agricultural Extension Managers Agricultural field officers on agricultural value chains in Zaria.
Othman said agricultural research was imperative for a paradigm shift from the way agriculture was being practiced in the past to be able to feed the country’s ever increasing population.
He called for construction and rehabilitation of agricultural research and development infrastructure, improved access to innovations and technologies, strengthening of the capacity of agricultural research to ensure reduction in poverty, hunger, and malnutrition in rural areas.
He said Nigeria’s population was increasing exponentially from about 42 million in the 60s to over 200 million presently, multiplying over almost five times during the period.
“Experts have projected that Nigeria will be the third most populous nation by 2050, that means that more mouths are going to be fed.
“The land will still remain the same and there will also be other competing issues over land and water,’’ he said.
Othman said with the situation on ground, it was evident that the task of agricultural extension officers would be more enormous in the near future.
“If we are getting two tonnes per hectare by the year 2050, we should be getting three times the yield of what we are getting per hectare now to enable us feed ourselves.
“As a country, we are in a very challenging situation; we must do the best we can to improve the feeding of this nation and the task is something very important to address,’’ he said.
The don said that the responsibility of feeding Nigeria depended on agricultural experts, especially the extension workers who were at the fore front in the agricultural sector.
He said to achieve these, the extension officers must generate high-performing agricultural innovative technologies and ensure increase in agricultural productivity through the provision of high-yielding varieties for farmers.
According to him, the institutes will also leverage on technology to sustain the training programmes to reach more agricultural extension workers in the country.
He said there were many examples of food insecurity in the country, adding that soaring food prices and food riots were among the many symptoms of the prevailing food crisis and insecurity.
Uthman said that climate change and weather vagaries, were generally compounding food insecurity and drastically changing farming activities, adding that an increasing awareness to produce more and better food must be created.
He advocated that good practices must be identified and examples of successful agricultural development and agricultural models that would lead to sustainable development must be prioritised.
Earlier, the Deputy Director of NAERLS, Prof. Emmanule Ikani said training was an empowerment to the participants on knowledge driven modern agricultural practice.
He therefore enjoined the participants to utilised the knowledge acquired during the two days training to the farmers toward increasing production and better outputs.
Alhaji Salihu Ibrahim, the Director of Agricultural Extension Programme, Kano State said the participants would disseminate the knowledge acquired during the training to farmers.
He assured that the Kano Agricultural Extension Programme was committed to ensuring that farmers were empowered with agronomic practices that would enhance production and boost the economy. (NAN)