The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has directed all heads of agencies under his supervision to settle down quickly and work to ensure that activities in the agricultural sector commence fully immediately the budget is released.
The minister stated this on weekend at an interactive meeting he held with the heads of all agencies under the agriculture ministry in Abuja.
Ogbeh stated the resolve of the ministry to make research institutes and colleges of agriculture centres of excellence by enhancing their capacities to enable them deliver.
He said, “research is not good if nobody knows about it”, adding the need to market research findings both in Nigeria and Africa.
The minister said agriculture related issues have been left behind 40 years ago and this has weakened the capacity of the Nigerian market to compete in the world market. He promised to use the research institutes to move life to the rural areas.
Ogbeh reminded them that the destiny of Nigeria is in their hands , saying, “ Nigeria relies on you to lift the country out of our disastrous situation”.
He however promised to address all the challenges being faced by the institutes and colleges but advised them to keep politics away from research.
In his remarks at the meeting, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, also urged the research institutes to model their curriculum towards solving problems.
Lokpobiri asked the research institutes not to see themselves as members of the academic society but as scientists.
He said: “As heads of agencies, you are expected to think and find solutions to problems.”
Earlier in his statement, the Executive Secretary, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), Prof. Yusuf Abubakar, said with the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari and the two ministers, the agricultural sector would move forward.
He emphasised the need for the ministry to address the challenges facing ARCN, Research Institutes and Colleges of agriculture to reposition them for good service delivery.
Meanwhile, the federal government’s determination to diversify its mono-product economy from crude oil to agriculture and other sectors received a boost, with the Republic of Guinea donating twelve (12) high yielding varieties of rice seeds to Nigeria to increase rice production in the country.
The donation was presented to the ministry on behalf of the government of the Republic of Guinea by the Charge de Affairs of Nigeria to the Republic of Guinea, Ambassador Jerry Hassan.
The Ambassador explained that his decision to solicit for these varieties of rice seeds from the Republic of Guinea was informed by the commitment of the Present Administration to diversify the economy from oil to other sectors, particularly Agriculture.
He further explained that these varieties of rice seeds which are high yielding could be cultivated three times in a year and would boost rice production in Nigeria.
The Desk Officer, Rice Value Chain, Dr. Victor Onyeneke, who received the donation on behalf of the Ministry expressed appreciation to the Government of the Republic of Guinea and affirmed that the high yielding varieties of rice seeds would reduce the cost of production for rice farmers with an increase in yield.
Dr. Onyeneke stated that the kind gesture from the Republic of Guinea was not only for the Ministry but for the entire country as it would go a long way in increasing food production and improving livelihoods.
He explained that these varieties of rice seeds would be handed over to relevant agencies of the Ministry namely; the Agricultural Quarantine Services; National Agricultural Seed Council and National Cereal Research Institute for analysis and confirmation.
In his remarks, the representative of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Director (West Africa), Foreign Affairs, Mr. Adesina Foluso, lauded the Government of the Republic of Guinea for the kind gesture extended to the country and called for more collaboration with other counties in the world for mutual benefits.
The representative of the National Quarantine Service, Mr. Obuseh Martin said the rice seeds varieties would be subjected to analysis, with the assurance that, if confirmed that the seeds would thrive on Nigeria’s soil it would be beneficial to the country.