DAILY TRUST | Nigeria

In Nigeria, there is a disconnect between the nation's 16 research institutes, the three federal universities of agriculture and the farmers, a situation that has left many farmers still attached to their traditional ways of growing crops and using grains instead of seeds.

Funding for these institutes has also been dwindling as many of them pay only salaries and have very little left for any serious research.

Experts believe this should not be the scenario as agriculture is now the nation's mainstay. The new Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, also stated that research institutes have to be taken seriously.

Currently, very few Nigerian medium and large scale farmers seem to search for what the institutes have. Many of the smallholder farmers do not even know anything about these institutes and the researches they have done over time.
Similarly, for those that have developed new technologies, dissemination of same to farmers remains a big issue.

Golden Harvest reliably gathered that some of the good researchers in some of these institutes are going back to the universities because the research institutes do not have the necessary funding and facilities for research.
For example, climate change presents new challenges that must be tackled by regular research. This year, many farmers struggle with seed germination because of excessive heat in the ground in some state.

Access to drought-tolerant and early-maturing varieties will help farmers to adapt to and adopt smart practices that will cushion the effect of climate change. As one farmer put it, "this is where research institutes must live up their expectations."

Some rely on the World Bank, WAPP and FAO funds for sponsorship, a situation that experts say is not good for the sector. They urge government to look critically into funding not only demand-driven researches but also good extension service delivery system.

On Monday, the new Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, reiterated that the 16 research institutes under the ministry will receive special attention in order to make them more relevant to farmers.

The minister, while receiving briefs from the research agencies under the ministry in Abuja, recognised the need to connect farmers to research institutes to strengthen availability and access to demand-driven, good seeds that will lead to golden harvests.

"For me, I want to be very serious with the research institutes, so that they will research on improved seeds that will be suitable to our environment," the minister said, adding that the institutes play a pivotal role in the growth of the agricultural sector.

Alhaji Nanono also said he will ensure that the research institutes in the ministry are repositioned and revamped to promote availability of improved seeds and seedlings that will motivate food production in the country.

He noted the enormous potentials of Nigerians in many spheres of life, assuring that efforts would be geared towards initiating ways of discovering these potentials, especially as they relate to the agricultural sector.

Drawing from his wealth of experience in the farming business and the enormous opportunities that abound, the minister urged Nigerians to refocus on making the agricultural sector the hub of the economic growth of Nigeria.

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