Stakeholders yesterday advocated proper funding of agricultural research to enable Nigeria have sustainable breakthrough in food production to feed the populace and industrial growth of the country.
The stakeholders, who spoke at the 3rd national stakeholders forum on ‘’Making Agricultural Research Work for End-users’’ in Abuja, also called for the review of Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, ARCN, budget for meaningful research in the sector. Agricultural research also generates technologies and knowledge that will impact on productivity through more efficient utilisation of inputs, stimulate economic activities in the agricultural sector/industries and contribute to multiple goals that would lead to social benefits in Nigeria.
According to the Executive Secretary of ARCN, Prof. Baba Yusuf Abubakar, the highest of $393.9million was total agricultural research spending in 2011 and maintained that agricultural research for development, Agric R4D remains the main driver of productivity growth in agriculture.
Abubakar also affirmed the need for government to further stimulate private sector investment in agricultural research while still playing its major role at the same time in order to overcome food shortages in the country.
‘’Increasing agricultural research investment would lead to agricultural productivity and productivity growth on the long run.
‘’The main driver of future growth in agricultural productivity is today’s investment in R4D. Significant decline in the rate of agricultural productivity growth in developing countries could be attributed to underinvestment in researches that promote productivity’’, he said.
The ARCN boss stressed the need for measures to shield agricultural R4D from budgetary uncertainties, saying one of the factors responsible for the success of EMBRAPA in Brazil is the level of commitment to research capacity development.
Abubakar noted that Brazil’s dedication and deliberate efforts in building research capacity must have contributed to significant improvement in the quality of researchers in the EMBRAPA system.
‘’Low levels of investment in agricultural R4D in developing countries are attributable to significant failures in R4D markets and institutional efficiencies, particularly the difficulty of preventing the resale of seed and the inability of innovators to capture their returns on R4D investments’’, he added.
To promote productivity growth in the agricultural industry in Nigeria, he further maintained that agricultural R4D technologies must be placed in the hands of end-users, and where necessary, their capacities to utilise the technologies must be enhanced.
Abubakar informed that ARCN took steps to revamp the agricultural research technology transfer system through the establishment of 52 adopted villages and adopted schools/AROCs in 2008/2009.
Acting President, Agricultural Policy Research Network, APRNet, Dr. Anthony O. Onoja, said the forum was aimed at providing a platform for stakeholders to dialogue about the approaches, challenges and opportunities for promoting the use of research in policy making and agricultural enterprise.
Onoja expressed concern about ‘’the growing food insecurity and the waning share of agriculture in Nigerian economy’’, which he pointed out was due to the consequences of the country’s inability to successfully implement various agricultural development programmes in the past because of oil.
“To worsen the situation, it is widely observed that agricultural sector policies, programmes and private enterprises are not sufficiently evidence-based”, he said, adding that this was owing to poor linkages between agricultural research and end-users of results including government, industry and civil society.