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ARMTI calls on scientists to explore grants for agricultural research

Agency report

Nigeria’s agricultural research sector loses approximately $100 million every year to its inability to attract grants from local and foreign grant-issuing foundations and organisations.

Speaking at the opening of a week-long training workshop for agricultural research officers by the Agriculture and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI) Ilorin, Kwara State recently, the Executive Director of the institute, Dr. Olufemi Oladunni, said the country needed research to improve its food production, reduce food shortages and poverty, as well as to create a job.

The ARMTI boss said the institute deemed it necessary to contribute its quota to developing the skills, knowledge and research competence of the nation’s scientists “to make them develop more, better, quality and high-yielding varieties to improve food security in Nigeria.

“Some of the commodities, such as crops, livestock, fisheries or even agroforestry, are already being produced in the country, but the quantum of our production is far below international outputs.

“Nigeria is not losing anything below $100 million grants every year due to inability to attract both local and foreign grants. And you know what that can do in the research system in agriculture. When you extend this and look at the value chain for research, there is a lot to gain by research scientists, among other actors, along the research value chains.

“For instance, in soya beans production, the highest you can have as output per hectare today is 1.3 tonnes, as against 10 tonnes per hectare in some other climes. You can see the enormity of what we’re saying. It’s not just in the style of production, but varieties being planted. And that’s where research comes in. Research must be able to make production high.

“We need to improve the tonnes of food we produce in this country to reduce food shortages, and poverty and increase employment within the system. It’s only when you have the right varieties of commodities cutting across livestock, fisheries and crop production that you can get some of these things done.

“That’s the essence of having research institutes and faculties of agriculture in our tertiary institutions because agricultural research is not meant for institutes alone. Every participant is supposed to be involved.

“Getting funds is not what the government alone can do. There are some foundations all over, even outside Nigeria, which are ready to give out funds to get these things done, but we are not getting it because we don’t have fund-able research proposals around.

“That’s why ARMTI is coming out to contribute its quota to developing the skills, knowledge and research competence of our scientists to be able to develop more, better, quality and high-yielding varieties to improve food security in Nigeria.

Dr. Oladunni, who said that 50 participants in the training programme were drawn across research institutes in the country, added that “almost every research institute in the country is represented and faculties of agriculture around us and outside here, including our own staff are involved.”

Speaking on behalf of the participants, Dr. Ishaku Leo Elisha from Vom, Plateau State, said that they would collaborate through networking among themselves to spread the knowledge garnered during the programme towards making the training worthwhile.

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