By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
With the impact of novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic, on food production including climate change, the Vice President, Nigeria Agribusiness Group, NABG, Emmanuel Ijewere, has stated how agricultural research institutions can boost food and agribusiness in the country.
Speaking on a telephone chat with Vanguard, Ijewere also asserted that most agricultural institutions are not really impacting activities in the sector as a resulting of not being business-mined and do not work with the private sector to put their research into productive and profitable use.
He said: “On research, what has happened is that research in the past has been based on civil service mentality; they call money to do research and they pile it up; go to international conferences and write reports and pile it up. They are not working with the players, the players are the private sector.
“Those are the people should be relating with our research institutions. Our research institutions should be dealing with them and not going to the government who has no farm and agricultural business. Government supposes to help fund them to research and improve quality and quantity of the produce that comes out at the end of the day.
“So research institutions need to be reoriented, they are too civil service-minded, they are supposed to be seen as businesses; a number of big companies supposed to enter contracts with them and say help me research on how I am going to improve on this item and they can pay and subsidized that research. They should be working with the private sector.
He also queried, “The research institutions as presently put together and why do we have so many proliferated all over the place and most of the monies spent on overhead than real research work, why don’t you bring them together as the Brazilians did?
“They did that 22 years ago and that is why is working for them. Nigeria needs to bring the research institutions together and they all work together under one umbrella in various departments, and they should tell us whatever they have discovered be made public not to be kept in the cupboard of the research institutions because they don’t research for themselves but research for Nigeria, private sector and those in the agricultural space. That is what needs to be done.”
He also suggested that government should consider providing a strong rail system for the sector to thrive in terms of reducing transportation difficulties and expenses.
“Finally, the rail system is going to be vital if we are going to be successful in the agricultural space”, he added.
“When you do anything for agriculture the civil servants are being warned that don’t think you are doing the farmers a favour but do the work. Those who do the work are actually to be in the field; the farmers, transporters, preservationists, and others. All these people in the value chain are the ones in the forefront. Government should listen, discuss and assist them to achieve their goal.