ARCN tasks NIHORT on problem-solving research to produce flood tolerant varieties 

From Ogundele Olanrewaju

Prof. Garuba Sharubutu, the Executive Secretary, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria has tasked the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT) on problem-solving research to produce flood tolerant varieties. 

Sharubutu gave the charge in Ibadan on Wednesday at the 2022 annual In-House Research Review and Planning Meeting of NIHORT.

The meeting entitled Innovation Horticultural Crop Research: Panacea to Sustainable Food and Nutrition Security and Economic Empowerment. 

Sharubutu who was represented at the event by Dr Umar Abdullahi, his Technical Adviser commended NIHORT for lots of new developments it is undertaking in line with its mandate, especially the new varieties the institute is set to release by December, 2022.

“This meeting is a wake-up call for the scientists and the institute to make a more positive impact through the mandate of the institute, which is genetic improvement.

“You must develop new improved varieties and come up with problem-solving research that is the focus of research now. 

“There is flooding everywhere, we have scientists here, give us flood tolerant varieties that is giving problem-solving research. If you come up with Tomato flood tolerant, you can easily get funding,” he said.

Sharubutu also enjoined the institute to step down some of the reviews to the outstations because there is a lot of farmers in there and so you can be able to interact with the farmers and learn about their problems.

He added that the institute can then develop and design  research to solve the problems.

Speaking on the ongoing nationwide industrial action by research institutes in the country, he enjoined the unions to consodyhe offer by the Minister of Agriculture, adding that their demand is inter-ministerial. 

In his address, Dr Muhammed Attanda, the Director and Chief Executive Officer, NIHORT Ibadan, said the meeting held annually was to synchronise and align stakeholders’ needs with the institute research focus.

Speaking on some of the achievements of the institute in the last one year, Attanda said there has been infrastructural developments, research and innovation achievement as well as training and capacity building.

Attanda said “We are focusing on releases of some of our mandate crops. When we can in some six months ago, we met some activities that were dormant, so we reactivated them.

“So we financed the research activities and we paid a courtesy call to NACGRAB, which is the government agency in charge of releasing new varieties crops and seeds.

“We are meant to know that the length of releases which was between four to five years have been shortened to between three and four years.

“Luckily we have some work on going and we discussed it with them and most of the work have reached an advance stage, we motivated the staff and by December we will be releasing five varieties of Eggplant and another five varieties of Tomato which are resistant to diseases and heat,” Attanda said.

The NIHORT boss charged members of staff of the institute to work together to promote improved varieties of Horticultural crops, develop technologies that will minimise post-harvest losses, pest and diseases in order to promote food security, employment generation, foreign exchange among others.

In his goodwill message, Mr Gidado Alakawa, Commissioner for Agriculture, Kwara State said agriculture is the only means of solving the problem of unemployment and most importantly the issues of unemployability which is the major problem of the country. 

He said the way the country is structured the demand for the skills our people have is no longer commensurate with the reality.

“So the only sector that has prospects to mop up the good, the bad and the ugly is the agricultural sector and take the productive youths with all their energy that are converted into crime is the agric sector,” Alakawa said.

Also, in his remarks, Mr Adeniyi Adebisi, the Commissioner for Agriculture Oyo State said the state has been doing a lot of projects to ensure food security, nutrition and agricultural development through partnership. 

He promised that the state would partner and collaborate  with NIHORT for robust developments in the agricultural sector.

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