The National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN) has urged the new Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono to ensure adequate funding for research institutes to boost agriculture in the country.
The President of the association, Mr Anibe Achimugu made the call in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja.
Achimugu who, congratulated Nanono on his appointment, said funding agricultural institutes would help find new ways of improving agriculture to guarantee food sufficiency, employment opportunities and revenue generation for government.
While decrying that most of the institutes in Nigeria were grossly underfunded, the association’s president said unless more attention was paid to resuscitating research institutes, efforts at revamping agricultural sector would not yield much results.
“One of the key things that I would want the minister to look into is research.
“For instance, I know that the Institute of Agricultural Research has done a lot particularly in the area of cotton, but one major problem they have is funding.
“So, I expect that the minister ensures they are adequately funded and their budget cash backed as this will go a long way because research helps in improving yields.
He further called on the minister to ensure that relevant policies of government were implemented to move agriculture forward.
“The assumption of office for all the ministers is a good omen for the country. The idea of having ministers is to assist the president to implement policies that will move the country forward.
“Particularly for Ministry of Agriculture, I expect that the minister would continue to drive the agricultural policy of the Federal Government, particularly in collaborating with the CBN for the Anchor Borrowers Programme.
“Also, he should ensure that the Bank of Agriculture is revived and boosted to be able to do more.”
Achimugu said while he was not expecting the minister to reinvent the wheel, he should ensure that the “wheel is moving and at a fast pace.
“Agriculture is time bound. Whatever the minister wants to do must touch a particular crop because they all have their seasons.
“He must do what he can to ensure that each season starts off at the perfect time.”
On restriction of foreign exchange on cotton and some items, the NACOTAN boss said the development was a wake up call for the minister to help bridge the gap that the restrictions would cause.
He said since government had taken steps to restrict foreign exchange on the items, the ministry must ensure the gaps created as a result were not too wide.
He noted that Nigeria had the capacity to meet up with its food requirement while exporting some without resorting to importation.
He said that all that was required was for the ministry to help bring it to fruition through collaborations with relevant stakeholders to achieve its set goals and objectives.
“Nigeria has the population, land requirement and the right climatic condition to be a major force in agriculture and should not relent in exploring possible avenues to achieving that.”
The Nigeria News Agency reports that Nanono, assumed office on Aug. 21, to replace Mr Audu Ogbe, whose tenure expired with the termination of the last administration.
Nanono, who hails from Kano and studied Business Administration.
He was a university lecturer, civil servant, and banker, who rose to the position of Managing Director of African International Bank (AIB). He is a farmer and politician.