24 May

Folashade Adebayo

The National Coordinator, National Agriculture Extension and Research Liaison Services, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Prof. Tunji Arokoyo, has asked farmers and agriculturists to add value to local rice grown in their communities, saying that it is more nutritious and fresh.

According to him, most imported rice is between 10 and 25 years old, while local rice such as the Ofada variety is fresh. He added that many Nigerians would opt for local rice with long grains and without stone.

Arokoyo said this on Tuesday during a programme with the theme, Re-engineering Agricultural Practices for Economic Recovery, organised by the Institute of Food Security, Environmental Resources and Agricultural Research of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

While delivering the keynote address, Arokoyo said the country had yet to achieve food security and become a player in the global food market because it stopped treating agriculture as a development project.

He said, “Nigeria’s food import bill is exceptionally high. The top four imports consume over N1bn in foreign exchange and it is growing at an unsustainable rate of 11 per cent per annum. Nigeria needs a legislated agricultural policy and sustainable funding mechanisms for agricultural research and extension.  We cannot underestimate private sector participation and support for research as well as a well funded and sustainable manpower development.’’

In his address, the Vice Chancellor, FUNAAB, Prof. Olusola Oyewole, lamented the country’s poor rating in the world’s Agriculture and Food Production Chart.

Oyewole who was represented by the Director, IFSERAR, Prof. Akin Omotayo, said that only innovative research in the areas of agricultural technologies, policy and extension system could guarantee food security.

He said, “Our research focus must seek to eliminate food shortages and accelerate the otherwise slow evolution from household subsistence production to more commercial farming. Our focus should be redirected to climate smart farming techniques and systems. We should evolve new technologies to pre-empt the effect of extreme weather conditions of food production.’’

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Source: Punch