Agric researchers tasked on ways to mitigate COVID-19, climate change effect

AGRICULTURE researchers have been called upon to think of ways and means of mitigating the effect of cimate change as well as the COVID-19 pandemic have had on the Nigerian agricultural space.

Making the call was the Vice-Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University and Chairman, Governing Board of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, during the opening ceremony of the 2020/2021 annual in-house research review and 33rd South-West Research Extension Farmers Input Linkage System (REFILS), which held at IAR&T, Moor Plantation, Ibadan, on Monday.

The in-house review exercise is an annual event, where the Institute presents a scorecard on its research activities and findings for the previous year.

Many distingusihed personalities from the academia; Universities, Research Institutes and other external bodies as well as its funding agent, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development are invited to appraise the Institute’s work, with a view to charting the way forward in the following year.

Ogunbodede, noted that the issues of climate change, friction between farmers and herdsmen and the COVID-19 pandemic have affected agricultural research and productivity and require a new approach to research and development.

He stated that:”Researchers must now begin to think of ways and mdeans of mitigating the effect of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic on agriculture in the country.

“I am aware that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the year 2020, the Institute was unable to hold the annual in-house review exercise and the REFILS workshop which makes this year’s event a unique one as for the first time in the history of the Institute, the annual in-house review exercise is taking place side by side the annual REFILS workshop.”

The Executive Director, IAR&T, Professor Veronica Obatolu, while intimating the gathering of the Institute’s research breakthrough and achievements noted that:”The research focus this year, like in the previous years, addresses the dual role of the Institute as multi-commodity research Institute and holder of national and zonal mandates in agricultural research and extension. This report covers activities across research programme in the year 2019 to 2020 across the different areas of mandates.”

Obatolu, also, informed the gathering that the IAR&T has established an agricultural development centre towards offering customised training to new generation of farmers with the aim of taking agriculture as business.

“In the year under review, the centre was able to train 799 farmers/start-ups (181 in 2019 and 618 in 2020) and supported them with technical backup for accessing AGSMEIS loan in partnership with NIRSAL Microfinance Bank.

“The centre also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NIRSAL Microfinace Bank as one of the Enrepreneurship Development Institutions (EDIs) under the Agribusiness Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS).”

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