From: Bamidele Fashube, Abuja
Stakeholders in the agriculture sector have been advised to go beyond production of agricultural produce and exports but do value-addition.
The Director General, Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), Prof.(Mrs) Gloria Elemo, made the call during an Afro-agricultural Expo themed: “Focus on Food Security and Sustainability” held on Wednesday at the International Conference Centre (ICC), in Abuja.
She identified need to introduce technology into agricultural processing as well as local fabrication of needed equipment.
Elemo, who was represented by FIIRO Director of Planning, Technology Transfer and Information Management, Dr. Oyedoyin Bolanle explained that lot of innovations have been made to reduce post-harvest losses in the area of cereals, fish, grains, fruits among others and promote value addition.
However, paucity of funds she stated have denied the institute the capacity to share the innovations among stakeholders especially agropreneurs and rural farmers.
“Today, agric in Nigeria is characterised by low productivity, land access constraints, limited adaptation of research findings and local technologies, poor and law irrigation development, high cost of farm inputs, poor access distribution, poor storage facility, poor processing technology development and general post-harvest losses,” she stated.
However, she disclosed ongoing plans to partner the private sector to develop technologies that could convert raw agric produce to finished goods and promote value-addition.
According to her, over 250 technologies have been developed but only 50 of them are ready for commercialization.
“People are being trained on weekly basis on some of these technologies,” Elemo added.
In her remarks, the organizer, Mrs. Njideka Kelley said the initiative came from need to really develop the agriculture sector as former major contributor to the Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
She said the challenges being confronted with while managing the farm of her 85 years old father further led to why she needed to give back to the society through the expo.
According to her, a lot of Nigerians in Diaspora wanted to come back home to invest in the economy and grow the agricultural sector.
“It is to bring my experience back to the rural farmers. I had this experience back in January 2018. From February, I started to put this together and I made at least 10 trips back and forth Huston, Texas and Nigeria, going to the ministry asking them for collaboration.
“Well, it took until two weeks ago for the minister to grant me audience that yes, he will collaborate but guess what he is not here.”
She added that, “yesterday I spent up to 7 hours in the ministry trying to find out who will represent him because we have done this. They kept saying to me there is no budget. I said I am not asking you for money I am doing this on my own. I have put in over $40, 000 of my own money with some of my partners that are here to do this for our country because of the love we have for Nigeria and because agriculture is my first love and was our sustaining future back in the 70s.”
However, she advocated need to create sustainable measures to feed the people and support entrepreneurs who may be interested in agriculture.
One of the partners, Mr. Sanni Uzo advised the federal government to encourage subsistence farmers and see how it could integrate them to mechanized farmers.
He restated commitment of the group to eradicate hunger and food scarcity by sharing ideas on modern farming practice.
“Our intention was to bring these experts to be able to introduce their technological know-how. We even have bankers here who could have introduced easier ways to get finance.”
“With their coming in, they will help us to advance cattle rearing, creating ranches where we can breed cattle, do exports other than producing for individual needs and local consumption.”
He noted that though the impact for the expo has not been created, however, he pledged to renew drive to ensure the group achieves set objectives.