Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
President, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), Dr. Anthony Onoja has said the significant decline in the rate of agricultural productivity growth in developing countries could be attributed to under-investment in researches that promote productivity.
Onoja stated that the panacea for agricultural growth in Nigeria is an increase in research investment in the sector while adding that only this would lead to agricultural productivity and growth in productivity on the long run.
He disclosed this at the APRNet 3rd national stakeholders’ forum with the theme: ‘The Role of Government in Promoting Quality Agricultural Research to Grow the Nigerian Agricultural Industry: Lessons from Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria’ held recently in Abuja.
In his welcome address, Onoja said the mission of ARCN is to achieve significant improvements in agricultural productivity, marketing and competitiveness by generating appropriate technologies, policy options, promoting innovation, establishing a knowledge management capacity and strengthening the agricultural research system.
According to him, “Globally, governments play critical roles in stimulating quality output to grow the agricultural industry. Development and deployment of agricultural R4D output is the critical stimulant of productivity growth in agriculture.
“The agricultural sector would not attain its potential in productivity growth and the businesses volume without the active participation of the private sector” he said.
Onoja stated that several attempts have been made to encourage private sector participation in the agricultural research sector/industry through various programmes, adding that “attracting private sector investments into agricultural research is more challenging than imagined.”
He said, “The focus of this paper is to share some perspectives through the lens of ARCN on the role of government in promoting quality agricultural research towards the attainment of food security.
“Agricultural research for the development sector is one of the areas in which the government plays the important role of stimulating quality output in the Nigerian agriculture. Some of the roles performed by government to actualise quality of output capable of growing the agricultural industry in Nigeria include the establishment and organisation of public agricultural R4D institutions, funding of public agricultural R4D institutions and creating enabling environment through relevant growth stimulating policies.”
He explained that in Nigeria, agricultural research is on the concurrent legislative list and that the implication of it is that, both the Federal and State governments have responsibilities and critical roles to play.
He stressed that the responsibilities of government to public R4D institutions do not in any way preclude the participation of the private sector, adding that government’s commitment would stimulate other key stakeholders to respond with corresponding action and this will result in the actualisation of the dream of an economy that does not solely depend on oil.
According to Onoja, the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria is the main organ of government responsible for the coordination and supervision of agricultural R4D in Nigeria, but, “notwithstanding the current and anticipated participation of private sector in agriculture and agricultural R4D, government must continue to take the lead in fulfilling its responsibilities to public agricultural R4D.”
This therefore calls for sustained and consistent funding of agricultural R4D activities both by federal and state governments who have roles to play in agricultural research for development by funding and creating enabling environment for the industry to thrive.