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Nigeria doing poorly in agric research — Senate President

Nigeria is doing poorly in agricultural research despite the country’s high poverty level and and food insufficiency, the Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, has said.

The senate president said this on Thursday as the Senate considered a bill that seeks to amend the Agricultural Research and Development.

“I want to say that we are doing very poorly in the area of agricultural research and development,” he said.

“It is a very bad commentary that our farmers have to still dry tomatoes and peppers, which is open sort of drying. They put them along roads, or sometimes just sweep hard surfaces. It is not acceptable, ware not making serious progress,” Mr Lawan said.

Nigeria budgeted N183.08 billion for agriculture in 2020. The amount is only 1.73% of the total annual budget of N10.608 trillion.

Nigeria has some 23 agricultural research institutes, most of them specialised.

The senate president said given the number of specialised agricultural institutes in the country, Nigerian farmers should have more access to simple technologies that make farming easy.

“We should at least have very simple technology that can help our people. We don’t have to go for something very big, that our farmers can use to enhance their performance,” he said.

Mr Lawan emphasised that agricultural sector has to be funded well so as to improve productivity and performance.

“We need to fund the agricultural sector, especially those institutions that will improve our performance as a country,” he said.

Abdullahi Adamu (APC – Nasarawa West), who sponsored the “Bill for an Act to amend the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria”, said the proposed legislation would provide comprehensive guide for National Agricultural Research Programmes and Project Management.

According to the lawmaker, despite agriculture contributing 21% to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the agricultural sector operates below its potential because research institutes are not coordinated and strengthened.

“The agricultural sector currently employs a significant portion of the Labour force, and contributes about 21% to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Ironically, in spite of this, agricultural resource and technical endowment as well as interventions by successive administrations, Nigerian agricultural sector has been operating far below its potential because the research institutes or centers are not well coordinated and strengthened,” Mr Adamu said.