Agric research institutes to commence marketing of technologies, innovations ― Prof Sharubutu

The Executive Secretary of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), Professor Garba Sharubutu has said that the amended ARCN Act empowers the various agricultural Research Institutes to market its technological innovation.

Speaking with Tribune Online, Professor Sharubutu said the amended Act allows the various Research Institutes to establish spinoff companies that will take over the marketing and sales of technologies.

“Most of our Research Institutes were also producers of technology, and there was a need for us to market this technology. But as it was, there is no way we can market these technologies, because we will be doing things illegally, because we did not have the right to go into marketing.

“So this amended Act allows us to establish spinoff companies for us to be able to operate. Before now, there has been this controversy as to why some of our Colleges of Agriculture are establishing consultancy outfits and it has been a subject of serious debate.

“So in the wisdom of this Act, there was now a need for us to actually establish spinoff companies with a view to making sure that they now market their products, not as part of the core mandate of the Institute, but as a branch, so that the revenue generation capacity will now be increased, because subsequently what we are targeting is to beat our chest to say, some of the products, or technologies we have developed, have been marketed”, he stated.

He said when research institutes develop varieties or products, if there are no off-takers to buy the products, the spinoff company will take over the marketing and sales of the product.

“If Cocoa Research Institute is able to come up with viable seedlings that are disease resistant, that are climate-smart, you’ll find out that because of the inability of off-takers to come and take this, these products will now be handed over to these spinoff companies and then they will now go into it.

“If the National Veterinary Research Institute produces a vaccine now. Now the selling of the vaccine will now be taken over by the spinoff company so that they will do the marketing so that the Research Institute will now be allowed to concentrate more on the issue of their own research, rather than doing one thing or the other”, Professor Sharubutu noted.

He said the ARCN amendment Bill went together with a bill on the agricultural Development Fund, both sponsored by Senator Abdullahi Adamu.

He explained that the Agricultural Development Fund will have the same characteristics as Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund) where research institutes will draw money for research works.

“Rather than making provision for a separate form of funding only for the Research Institutes and the Colleges, in his own wisdom, he said let there be or not the Act that will establish an Agricultural Development Fund.

“Now, this Agricultural Development Fund is supposed to harmonize all the various sources of revenue that are agriculture-related, so that we all have a TETFUND type of organization so that the Research Institutes will draw from, the colleges will draw from, the universities of agriculture will draw from, but most importantly, those that are into processing will also draw from and every industrialist will now have the chance of opting to either come to the agriculture development fund or go to the industrial fund to go and draw their money depending on what he wants to undertake”.

He said with this amended Act of the Council, there is likely going to expect an increase in revenue that is being generated, because of the creation of these spinoff companies.

“I can assure you that, from what is there now, each of the Research Institutes will be given targets, and that’s the reason why I said regulations must come in.

“For example, if you say, we are budgeting N20 million to produce seedlings, at the end of the year, we should be able to know what you do with the seedlings. Did they get rotten? If they got rotten, why should they be rotten? Did you sell them, if you sold them is it cost recovery? So you see the spinoff company aspect should be able to give us better revenue generation.

“And of course, you will find out that people must also be held accountable for whatever money they have been given, today, with this bill will be able to know, for example, we have budgeted 20 million for us to be able to develop a new variety of cowpea, every year now we’ll be able to take stock. If you said it is going to be in five stages and they have released the money for you in those numbers of stages, what is the end result?”, he noted.


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