The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon Mustapha Shehuri, on Friday, maintained that agricultural research institutes and extension services remain Federal Government’s priority in enhancing food production, nutrition, profitability, and security.
Shehuri stated this while on courtesy visit to the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, at Government House, Benin, while on tour of projects executed by his Ministry in Edo State.
According to Shehuri, the Ministry has come up with new paradigm shift that focuses on research and development, professional agricultural extension services, proper input deliveries and provision of integrated rural infrastructures.
He further stated that food and nutritional security could be achieved if there is close working relationship with all the State Governments, private sector and other relevant stakeholders, which also makes it imperative for research institutes to be engaged and made farmer-driven, which coordinated research activities will yield immediate benefits to farmers that is supported with good extension services for farmers to take maximum advantage of research output.
He said: “The Ministry will continue to strengthen its agricultural research institutes and extension services in order to collectively deliver on its mandate.
“The new paradigm shift focuses on the research and development, good extension services, input deliveries and provision of integrated rural infrastructures to support farmers and other stakeholders.
“Edo State is among the leading states in the productions of Rice, Cassava and Maize amongst the food crops. In access of tree crops, Edo State is a clear leader in Oil Palm, Rubber and of recent, the cocoa production in the state has stepped up to rival with other states such as Ondo and Osun states.
“The Nigeria Institute of Oil Palm Research, NIFOR, and Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria, RRIN, are among the two oldest Research Institutes located in Edo State.”
He also expressed optimism that with the 1,100 extension agents being trained under the first batch comprising 30 extension workers from each State and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, it will definitely change the narrative in the agricultural sector, because they will be deployed to train others via the train- the -trainer approach as they take knowledge acquired on new innovations to farmers at the grassroots.
The Minister also said the Ministry is making sure farmers have an enabling environment that facilitates agribusiness, which intervention projects are currently ongoing in rural communities of the State as a way to compliment what Edo State Government has done at that level.
“These interventions include asphalt rural roads, solar-powered/motorized boreholes and solar street lights in different parts of rural communities in Edo State”, he said.
The Minister was on a working visit to some States in the South-South geopolitical zone, where he concluded by visiting the Extension Delivery Centre in Ovia southwest Local Government Area of Edo State.
The centre is established to provide capacity building for smallholder farmers and enhance food production in the state.
The Executive Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, in a remark, said that the agricultural policies of the State are in tune with the Federal Government’s programme of diversifying the economy through agriculture.
“There is a need for robust partnerships and collaboration with the Federal Government towards achieving food security and fast-tracking the economic growth of the nation”, Obaseki said.
However, he pointed and advised that it has become imperative to streamline some of the agricultural institutes in the country in order to cut running costs and curb wastage.