FCT Minister harps on importance of research in agricultural development
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, on Saturday stressed the importance of research in attaining agricultural innovations and food security.Bello said this when he visited Dr Gbassey Tarawali, Head of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Abuja Station in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the visit was part of the minister’s tour to agricultural projects to assess their impact and ensure that they effectively meet the yearnings of the residents of the FCT.
He commended the institute for its intense research works, especially in the development of improved seed varieties and capacity building, which he said, had helped to boost agriculture in the FCT and Nigeria.
Bello reiterated the commitment of the administration to foster Public Private Partnership (PPP) towards repositioning the agricultural sector to an avenue for job creation.
The minister said the repositioning would also work toward providing the much-needed impetus for sustainable economic development of the country.
He assured that the FCTA, through its Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat, will continue to work closely with the Institute.
“This is in order to provide the necessary governmental support from the administration towards addressing some of their challenges and ensuring smooth operations in the institute.
“The FCT Administration has already begun the implementation of various agricultural programmes aimed at bringing in youths to become active players in the agribusiness,’’ he said.
Bello called on the institute to come up with more training programmes in order to accommodate the ever-growing youth population in the FCT.
Earlier, the Head of station, Tarawali, had informed the minister that the agency was established in 1991 as an Agro-research institute to generates innovations in agriculture to meet the needs of farmers in the FCT.
The collaboration with the FCT, according to him, has since then grown from strength to strength with provision of not only improved crops that are disease-resistant, but also high-yielding.
The institute, he said, had introduced a youth development initiative which targeted NYSC youth corps members in the areas of training and mentorship.
He said that with the support of the FCT Agric Secretariat, trainees from the institute will be able to step down their knowledge to grassroots farmers in the rural communities.
The Secretary for Agriculture and Rural Development, Nzekwe Ifeanyichukwu, commended the minister for the visit, which he said “is a testimony of the importance the administration attaches to the agricultural sector’’.
The minister was conducted round some of the facilities at the Institute which include the yam and cassava field, the yam barn, demonstration plots, fish ponds as well as the banana field.