Nigeria lacks agric research support, say nematologists
While the Federal Government is encouraging Nigerians to see the positives in agriculture, the president of Nigerian Society of Nematologists (NISON), Professor Dele Fawole, has said many corporate and private organisations are not showing interest in agricultural research in the country.
Fawole stated this at the just-concluded third biennial conference of NISON with the theme, ‘Nematodes and the Ecosystem,’ held at Augustine University, Ilara Epe, Lagos.
He said: “While the government is encouraging agriculture and tilting Nigerians towards it, many organizations are not showing support in agricultural research. If researches are conducted across the country, many farmers and even people coming into the agric business will be well enlightened, knowing what it takes to excel and be successful.”
On the threat nematodes pose on agricultural produce, Fawole stated: “They reduce farmers yields to different levels which result in low productivity, quality and low return on investment. Though not all nematodes have negative effects on the soil. There are some that help in revitalizing the soil by decomposing organic matter in the soil. The other is plant parasitic nematode which is harmful to agricultural produce. It is difficult to get total control, but what we are striving for, is keeping them (plant nematodes) at a population where they don’t have significant level of damage,” he stated.
Speaking on the enlightenment of Nigerian farmers on nematodes, the vice chancellor, who is also the vice president of NISON, Professor Steve Afolami, said: “We have done a lot of research, published papers but most of them are not being used for the purposes for which the research were meant. Every time Nigeria reaches a point where it (the research) is going to benefit scientifically (especially) from produce and the effort of the researcher, something always happen that prevent it (the research) from being implemented.
“In the case of weeds, we almost got to a point where farmers were to become routine users of herbicides to control weeds in such a manner that the intensive labour needed for managing weeds in farms would be reduced. Suddenly the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) came and there wasn’t money to manage that programme. That prevents agriculture from taking off in a commercial manner.
“Nematodes are not (really) visible, you need a very organized group for extension. First to train farmers and then to demonstrate the effect of controlling nematodes from the crops themselves, so that farmers can save themselves from loss managed by the scientist of the extension person. When these are done, other farmers who pass by are likely to ask question on what are you doing that we are not doing.”
He added: “Generally, the effect of nematodes are not known. Tree crops like cocoa are being affected by nematodes. Usually the effects are not felt immediately because farmers could think it’s a soil problem.
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