The National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Service (NAERLS) has advocated improved agricultural research on crop varieties to grow the economy and tackle food insecurity.
Prof. Mohammed Othman, the Executive Director of NAERLS, made this known during a two-day capacity-building programme for the North Western states’ agricultural extension managers and field officers on agricultural value chains in Zaria.
Othman said agricultural research was imperative for a paradigm shift from the way agriculture was being practiced in the past, to be able to feed the country’s ever-increasing population. He called for the construction and rehabilitation of the agricultural research and development infrastructure, improved access to innovations and technologies, strengthening of the capacity of agricultural research to ensure reduction in poverty, hunger and malnutrition in rural areas.
He noted that Nigeria’s population had increased exponentially, from about 42 million in the 60s to over 200 million currently, multiplying over almost five-fold during the period.
“Experts have projected that Nigeria will be the third most populous nation in the world by 2050, that means that there will be many more mouths to feed. But the land mass will still remain the same and there will also be other competing issues over land and water,’’ he said.
Othman said that, with the situation on ground, it was evident that the task of agricultural extension officers would be more enormous in the near future. “We should be getting three times the yield of what we are getting per hectare now, to enable us feed ourselves. As a country, we are in a very challenging situation; we must do the best we can to improve the feeding of this nation and the task is something very important to address,’’ he added.
He concluded that the responsibility of feeding Nigeria depended on agricultural experts, especially the extension workers, who were at the fore-front in the agricultural sector. Naija 247 News