By Promise Etim
Technology driven and knowledge based agribusiness practice has been identified as key to transforming the nation’s economy.
The recommendation was made during the 18th International and 38th Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Institution of Agricultural Engineers (NIAE) held recently at Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umuahia.
In a communiqué made available to newsmen at the end of the conference, and signed by its National Chairman, Dr Shuaib Musa, the institute noted that it was necessary for a new narrative to be driven as regards how agriculture is practiced in the country, to aid promotion of small, medium and large scale agribusinesses.
“The age long patter of Agricultural practices in Nigeria which principally focus on the use of traditional implements has not yielded the desired results. They are several locally available Agro-Industrial materials in Nigeria which could be explored to improve the economy”.
“We must effectively and sufficiently change the way we practice Agriculture and adopt a science based, technology-driven and knowledge intensive agribusiness practices in Nigeria”, Musa posited.
The professional body decried the increased paucity of quality, accurate and verifiable data in the Agricultural sector, while calling on stakeholders in the sector to always engage the services of well trained and highly skilled personnel to address challenges of food production.
The group also raised concerns on the need to ensure adequate synergy between theoretical research and field practice to facilitate industrialization, commercialization and full mechanization of agriculture in the country.
Renewable energy utilization was also recommended as part of remedial measures to ensure availability of power for the purpose of processing, storage and provision of electricity to rural communities, which majority of farmers are domiciled.
On the need to ensure adherence to standards and delivery of quality services, the institute made a case for inclusion of Agricultural Engineers in supervision of projects, production and standardization of agricultural machines and development of erosion control structures to guarantee adequate reclamation of lands, roads and other structures.
A call for commercialization and increased patronage of machines invented and produced in various institutions of learning in the country by Nigerians was also made.