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Minister of Agriculture Harps on Importance of Technology

Minister of Agriculture Harps on Importance of Technology

The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Adesina Akinwumi, has said that there can be no real progress in the efforts at providing adequate food for the teeming Nigerians without technology, adding that sound science and proven discoveries will be used to drive the country’s agriculture agenda.

Speaking recently while signing a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with African Agriculture Technology Foundation, AATF, on agriculture technology sharing cooperation, Akinwumi disclosed that the cooperation with AATF does not mean the body will be bringing unregulated into Nigeria as the bill on biosafety is still pending at the national assembly.

Said Adesina: “As we use the occasion today to sign the MOU between AATF and my Ministry, it is pertinent to state that, under Agriculture Transformation Agenda (ATA), we place much premium on the use of appropriate technology as key to reversing the low agricultural productivity and unlocking the potential of African smallholders.

“We are therefore happy to have you here and we are mindful of your many efforts aimed towards food security and improved livelihoods of farmers in many countries of Africa.

Insecticide spraying

While appreciating the successes of AATF in different areas they have intervened in Africa agriculture like maize, cowpea and banana, the minister said they will be working in partnership with AATF to develop and test cowpea varieties with a genetic trait that would make the plant resistant to the borer and provide farmers with an alternative to costly and hazardous insecticide spraying.

“As we are determined to increase production and empower farmers, particularly the small-scale, our mechanisation transformation agenda will benefit from AATF’s cassava mechanisation and agro-processing – accelerating cassava harvesting and processing.

“We expect the impact to cover over one million farmers and their families, increase yields from the current average of 9 tonnes per hectare to 25 per hectare, and increasing labour productivity.

Dr. Akinwumi added that the importance of hybrid rice is recognised in the ministry’s efforts towards repositioning rice production in Nigeria to meet local needs as well as create export opportunities.

“Under ATA, we are focusing on developing hybrid rice with yield advantage. We are encouraged by the remarkable efforts of AATF to improve food security and rural livelihood among African small-scale rice producers, with the programme to create sustainable hybrid rice agro-businesses to support rice farming in East, West and Southern Africa by determining precise relationships between yield, environment and genetics. These will be an asset to us here in Nigeria.”

Dr. Adesina said Nigeria’s meeting with AATF opens an avenue for collaborative efforts to jointly identify and facilitate the transfer of appropriate technologies that meet the needs of farmers, particularly in Nigeria, in ways that address and resolve the concerns of technology providers and users.

He stated that under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of the present administration, Nigeria entered the third year of implementation of Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme, a programme which depends on a modern technology called electronic wallet,.

Dr. Akinwumi explained that the electronic wallet technology has enabled the Ministry to reach nearly ten million farmers with subsidised farm input support since inception, with attendant increase in farm yield and improved livelihoods for the registered beneficiaries.

Speaking earlier, the Executive Director, African Agriculture Technology Foundation, AATF, Dr. Denis Kyetere, said that the Kenya based organisation’s mission for Africa agriculture was to access, develop, adapt and deliver appropriate agricultural technologies for sustainable use by smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, through innovative partnerships and effective stewardship along the entire value chain.

Kyetere listed areas of concern for agriculture in Africa as well as crops on which AATF had started working on in Nigeria and West Africa and some of the achievements and benefits so far realized.

Source: Vanguard

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