Prof. Garba Sharubutu, the Executive Secretary of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), has revealed that the Federal Government has recently employed 1,650 agricultural scientists in order to enhance food production and ensure security. This announcement was conveyed during an interaction with the media held at ARCN’s main office in Abuja. Sharubutu highlighted the Council’s pivotal role in mobilising the agricultural sector and prioritising the provision of impactful research outputs that enhance Nigerian farmers’ productivity across diverse agricultural value chains.
He mentioned that the Council has fully embraced President Bola Tinubu’s emergency declaration in the sector and is already in full swing to make the President’s vision and passion for the sector a reality. He further noted that all the research institutions affiliated with the Council are diligently focusing on diverse agricultural value chains, striving to provide farmers and other stakeholders with optimal solutions to meet their requirements. He mentioned that their recently employed scientists had also received additional training.
Gov’t emphasises crop diversity to optimise agriculture research.
The government gave its endorsement for the addition of the 1,650 scientists, specifically focusing on research, to their workforce. The explicit directive is to hire individuals with expertise in breeding activities, as this is crucial for enhancing the genetic makeup of local crops. Training sessions were organised, making it an exclusive opportunity for a select group, especially those well-versed in breeding practices, as these areas require immediate attention. On the other hand, his suggestion was to focus the government’s efforts on cultivating fast-growing crops if they desired a delightful eating experience.
The essence of their endeavour lies in the categorisation of certain crops as quick-maturing, including rice, yam, cassava, wheat, Guinea corn, and millet. However, they emphasise that it is essential not to disregard other products or commodities. The cash crop cannot be overlooked due to the necessity of diversification. In fact, when considering the objectives set forth by the President and his prioritisation, it becomes evident and important that ensuring food security occupies the top spot.
Agencies align with the presidential mandate on food security.
Having comprehended the underlying fundamentals shaping the government’s approach, it is imperative for the agencies operating under the Ministry of Agriculture to acquire similar guidance from Mr President and the esteemed Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari. They should provide him with detailed accounts of their activities carried out at different tiers. In the coming week, he said a gathering is scheduled between them and all the institutions conducting agricultural research, as well as the colleges of agriculture, with the purpose of charting a new path.
The scheduled meeting, set to take place on the 25th and 26th of January 2024, holds significant importance in paving the path to fulfilling a critical obligation. Its objective revolves around assessing the progress made thus far, particularly in relation to the 2024 budget, and outlining future plans. This gathering gains even more significance as it follows the President’s proclamation of a state of emergency in food security. The Agricultural Research Institute of Nigeria has devised numerous strategies to carry out its mandate effectively. One of their key strategies focuses on national-level initiatives.
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To ensure the success of their research and provide comprehensive solutions for farmers, they must collaborate with international organisations that offer crucial funding. This partnership allows them to make their research more practical and addresses global concerns. National institutions depend solely on the yearly budget allocation they receive, as foreign funding is designated for specific projects and is contingent upon the proposals they submit. Currently, plans are being discussed to enhance the working conditions for both ARCN’s staff and those working at different research institutes. Furthermore, it was highlighted that efforts to develop the skill set of the staff members have already been initiated.