As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark this year’s March for Science, stakeholders in the agricultural sector have harped on the need to use science to advance agricultural production in Nigeria in order to achieve food security.
Science, which is evidence-based, has been used in most developed countries to advance food production through the improvement of yield per hectare and reduction in use of chemicals and pesticides and addressing the issue of climate change.
This year’s March for Science attracted farmers, scientists and other stakeholders in the agricultural and other relevant sectors, to show solidarity to science and Nigerian scientists in their quest to develop technologies that will address food security.
According to the Country Coordinator of Open Forum in Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Dr Rose Gidado, the March was to align with the Nigerian scientists to make their voices heard so that they could be supported by the government to carry out more research to develop the Nigerian agricultural sector.
“Science is one area that people find very difficult to understand, but with this march, we are bringing science to the street just for public understanding. We are engaging the public, to make them know that science is not mystic and shouldn’t be mystified, so science can actually do a lot,” Gidado said.
Furthermore, she said the reason for the March was “to re-emphasize the role of science in national development. Science helps in mitigating the impact of climate change in our environment, in food safety and food production as well as increasing food production through biotechnology.
“We have to speak up for science because science research is not gaining enough support it needs to drive the plan to revitalise Nigeria’s agricultural sector. We also want them to understand that we have able scientists in Nigeria.”
Also, the Vice President of All Farmers Association, Chief Daniel Okafor said without science, the Nigerian agricultural sector will not witness remarkable development.
He called for the support of Nigerian scientists by the government in the area of increased funding for research to enable them develop new varieties of crops that will make farmers witness greater yield.
“I support science because without it the farmers cannot grow. Research has shown us in many ways that a lot is needed for farmers to perform very well. I advise people to adopt science because I have seen that without science we cannot have improved varieties of seeds.
“With science, we can have a lot of improvement, and we are going to create a lot of jobs, because if a farmers gets five tonnes per hectare, with the involvement of science and research, the farmer can get up to 200 tonnes per hectare. So all these are the improvements science has brought to us. But people don’t understand, and that is why they are criticising the use of science in agriculture.
“I will encourage and advise our scientists to do more research, because when they do research, the farmers will carry it up. When they are doing trials of any crop, we should be involved.
“The government on their own part should fund research and biotechnology. The reason is because without that we cannot have increase in yield,” Chief Okafor added.
In his address, the Acting Director-General of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Abayomi Oguntunde, represented by Mr Osino Christian, said with the growing population of Nigeria, the need to adopt science to improve food production is imminent.
“Modern science in Nigeria is awakened by the continuous and hard efforts of the outstanding scientists and researchers who attempt scientific advances of highest international calibre.
“Just like other scientists across the world, Nigerian scientists have developed various scientific tools that can help in the area of food security, combating climatic change, which, the public have not been fully aware of.
“At the current population of over 180 million people and projected population of 400 million people by 2050, Nigeria is faced with the risk of decreased farming population due to age; decreased arable land; poverty, malnutrition and hunger because the conventional method of agriculture can no longer meet up with our demand. Science holds the solution to our food security.
“A country that cannot feed itself cannot have self-pride. The issue of food security therefore, requires that all hands be on deck for the reconstruction, revival and rejuvenation of our agricultural sector.
“This March for Science therefore, has provided yet another opportunity for Science supporters to come together, join voices to amplify available Science-based solutions the nation can adopt to ensure food security,” Oguntunde said
While wondering why Nigeria is yet to fully adopt Science in agricultural production, the NABDA DG, acknowledged that most developed countries have adopted Science as tool to improve their agricultural sector.
“This brings the need to show support and confidence in scientific innovations set to improve livelihoods like agricultural biotechnology.
“This technology as we probably know, feeds most developed countries like USA, Argentina, Brazil, Canada and have transformed farming to a profitable business, with the current state of Agriculture in Nigeria, it has become paramount to also adopt this technology to improve our productivity and revive our industries,” he said.