The Institute of Food Security, Environmental Resources and Agricultural Research (IFSERAR) of the University, has held its 4th Annual In-House Review Meeting with the theme; “Re-Engineering Agricultural Practices for Economic Recovery”. Delivering the keynote address, Professor Tunji Arokoyo, from the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria disclosed that Nigeria is an untapped potential agricultural powerhouse that has no reason to either be food insecured or poor.
IFSERAR Holds 4th Annual In-House Review MeetingProfessor Arokoyo described Nigeria as a well-endowed country that is blessed with 17 commodity-based research institutes, 78 faculties of agriculture in registered federal and state universities, three specialised universities of agriculture, 11 international agricultural research centres, 50 federal and state colleges of agriculture and related disciplines (fisheries, animal production and health, and land resources), but is still entangled in the web of poverty like several Africa countries. The Agricultural Extension Don related the problems of Nigerian agriculture to the absence of legislated policy, policy inconsistencies, low level of technology input, low level of farmers, poor and irregular funding of national researchers, poor developed agricultural and rural infrastructure, weak marketing system, low level private sector participation and lack of vision.

He decried the high level of food importation by the country, which he said was costing the country a lot of foreign exchange, saying it was unsustainable. He charged stakeholders in agriculture to look inward and start treating agriculture as real developmental project. He described the ripple effects of import dependency and allied practices as making most of our research institutes to become donor-driven. Professor Arokoyo submitted that to re-engineer the agricultural practices for economic recovery, the country should have a legislated agricultural policy, ensure sustainable funding mechanism for agricultural research and extension, encourage private sector participation and support for research, well-funded and sustainable manpower development that should be targeted towards national research, have a paradigm shift to agricultural research for development by encouraging the use of ICTs for partnerships, networking and e-research/e-extension.

The Vice-Chancellor had welcomed all participants to the in-house review and called for improved qualities of research and researchers by attracting quality research grants that would support ground-breaking research and capacity building. The Vice-Chancellor said the University should strive to forge strong and international linkages, through collaborative research and to also develop good culture of research that is aimed at solving the problems of food security in our society. The Vice-Chancellor, who was represented by the Director of IFSERAR, Professor Akin Omotayo, described IFSERAR as an agricultural research institute that had become relevant in the country’s national research focus by providing answers to food security questions. The Vice-Chancellor also called for the development of new varieties of food, industrial and livestock products through crosses of exotic with local varieties and effective methods to increase harvest in rain-fed, drip and organic agriculture, which, according to him, could only be achieved through partnership with universities, research institutes and industries within and outside the country. The Vice-Chancellor charged the participants to develop research projects that best addressed food security questions in Nigeria during the Research Review Meeting.

The Director of IFSERAR, Professor Akin Omotayo, had earlier welcomed the participants to the Research Review Meeting, as he summarised its core research activities to include agricultural mechanised and energy research programme, aquaculture and fisheries research programme, crop production research programme as well as food and nutrition research programme. Others are: food security and socio-economic research programme, livestock production research programme and natural science research programme. Present at the programme were the Dean, College of Agricultural Management Rural Development (COLAMRUD), Professor Bolanle Akeredolu-Ale; the Director, Agricultural Media Resources and Extension Centre (AMREC), Professor Victor Olowe; the Director, Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES), Professor Grace Sokoya and Mrs. Atinuke Adiyeloja, the representative of the Acting Bursar, among others.