Agriculture is the pillar and most vital production sector of any Nation’s economy. The roles of the Nigerian agricultural sector include the provision of food for the population. The sector has been the largest employer of labor with over 75% of the nation’s population involved in one form of agriculture-related activities or another. The sector provides income for the farming households, and a source of foreign exchange earnings for the nation.
Against this backdrop of the agricultural sector’s contribution to employment creation, poverty, and hunger reduction, reduction in rural-urban migration, the present administration has not only focused on the MDG’s but has also begun the nation’s agricultural transformation in all its ramifications.
Agricultural research in Nigeria started over 100 years ago with the establishment of a botanical garden in Lagos during the late 19th century. By 1903, the Forestry and Botanical Department (renamed Agricultural Department) for Southern Nigeria was created. By 1912, they divided the latter into Northern and Southern regions. By 1914, they created the Forestry and Veterinary Departments. The Fishery Department developed in 1951. In a nutshell, by the 70s and 80s, different research institutes and departments of agriculture had emerged. Presently, Nigeria has the largest and most elaborate National Agricultural research systems in Sub- Saharan Africa. By 2006, the government set up an umbrella body known as the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN) which addressed the challenges faced by the agricultural research system. ARCN’s mission is to achieve significant improvements in agricultural productivity, marketing, and competitiveness through the generation of technologies, policy options, and knowledge management of the agricultural research system. ARCN can achieve its mission through the adopted village studies and the Agricultural Research Outreach Centres (AROC).
FUNCTIONS OF RESEARCH.
The Agricultural Research Institute conducts research aiming to create and transfer knowledge for the development of the primary sector and to solve problems at the farmer’s level. They transfer the research results to stakeholders through modern educational programs and dissemination tools. Its research activity strengthens rural development and contributes to the adoption of a sustainable rural policy and innovation offer.
These research institutes include:
1). National Root Crops Research Institute
P.M.B 7006, Umudike, Umuahia, Abia State
Established in the year 1976
Formal mandate: Genetic improvement of cassava, yam, cocoyam, Irish potato, sweet potato, and ginger and overall research in improvement of farming system of the South East Zone.
2). Lake Chad Research Institute
P.M.B 1293, Gamboru Road Maiduguri, Borno State
Established in the year 1960
Formal mandate: Genetic improvement and development of production technologies for wheat, millet, and barley; the improvement of the productivity of the entire farming system in the North Eastern Zone.
3). Institute for Agricultural Research
P.M.B 1044, Ahmadu Bello University. Samaru Zaria
Established in the year 1924
Formal mandate: Genetic improvement and development of production and utilization technologies for sorghum, maize, cowpea, groundnut, Cotton, sunflower, and the improvement of the productivity of the entire crop-based farming system in the North West Zone of Nigeria.
4). Institute of Agricultural Research and Training
P.M.B 5029, Ibadan, Nigeria
Established in the year 1956
Formal mandate: Soil and water management research, genetic improvement of kenaf and jute, and improvement of the productivity of the entire farming system of the South West Zone.
5). National Cereal Research Institute
P.M.B 8 Badeggi, Bida Niger State
Established in the year 1957
Formal mandate: Genetic improvement and production of rice, soybean, benniseed, sugarcane and improvement of productivity of entire farming system of the Central Zone.
6). National Animal Production Research Institute
P.M.B 1096 Shika, Zaria
Established in the year 1977
Formal mandate: Research on food animal species and forages
Agriculture is a major sector in any nation’s economy. Nigeria, being an agrarian country, employs the majority of her populace and provides their livelihoods. It contributes to employment creation, poverty and hunger reduction and reduction in rural- urban migration.
And so, in the new transformation policy through research, Nigeria will:
•No more embark upon isolated projects without a strategic focus to drive agricultural growth and food security in a clear and measurable way.
•Focus on agriculture as a business
• Focus on value chains where Nigeria has a comparative advantage
• Develop strategic partnerships to stimulate investments to drive a market-led agricultural transformation at :
1. State and local governments
2. Inter-ministerial collaboration
3. Private sector
4. Farmer groups and civil society
• Sharp focus on youth and women