The Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University has commended the developmental strides and innovations of the director of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Prof. Veronica Obatolu. He made the remark during the 34th Southwest REFILS Workshop held at the Ibadan campus of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training. (IAR&T). The workshop which held on 3rd April, 2023, was tagged, 'Innovative Approaches to Tackle the Impact of Climate Change and Insecurity on Agricultural Productivity in Southwest Nigeria.'
Declaring the workshop opened, Prof. Simeon Bamire, Vice Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University and Chairman, Governing Board of the institute, commended the institute for many developmental researches in agriculture aimed at providing answers to many issues that have been identified by farmers in the southwest of Nigeria and the country at large. Making reference to the Research Review Exercise, he described the institute as a "platform where research trials are critically examined to determine how far these issues have been addressed." He went further to describe the REFILS workshop as an avenue where research scientists, extension workers, farmers and agro input dealers meet to interact with a view to address the many problems of food insecurity and hunger in the country. Prof. Bamire added that the issue of climate change has gravely affect food production globally. While urging participants and agricultural experts to look into the challenges of climate change and proffer solution; he decried the frequent conflicts between the cattle headers and the farmers in the farm. This he said would result to hunger if not curtail on time.
The Vice Chancellor who thought on the poor funding of the institute, commended the director for doing so much with so little. He used the opportunity to make clarion call to stakeholders not only to support the funding of the institute, but also to seize the opportunity of the Review Exercise and the REFILS Workshop to begin to creatively develop innovations that would address the issues confronting the sector.
In her address to the workshop delegates, Prof. Veronica Obatolu, the Executive Director of the institute emphasized that our fortune as a nation lies on agriculture to feed our teeming population, which she said is the mandate of the institute to reposition the nation towards national agricultural development for food sufficiency, poverty reduction, and improved livelihood. "There have been several challenges that have confronted our national life and these have impressed all developmental planners, policy makers and government agencies to search for means for sustainable economic growth and development."
The Executive Director went further to lament the long negligence of agricultural sector; depending solely on oil which is now globally losing its value. She harped on the urgent need to develop agriculture as means to salvage the consistent reducing GDP, which she said hold a great fortune of not only feeding the nation, but also guarantees employment and poverty reduction.
Prof. Obatolu appraised the institute as one government agency poised to contributing to the attainment of the goal of food sustainability in the country through it research efforts, innovations, technologies and extension services delivery. While advancing the landmark contributions of the institute to the nation's agricultural development.
Prof Veronica lamented dwindling funding as the bane of the institute.
Mrs. Oguntoye, southwest Zonal Director of Ministry of Agriculture represented the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development at the workshop. In her message to the delegates, she appreciated the management of IAR&T for the immense roles its playing to boost the agricultural sector to ensure food security. She added further that if food security must be guaranteed, research and innovation must be given their rightful place in our nation. The challenge of climate change and insecurity which she said are not peculiar to Nigeria are serious obstacles to agriculture that everyone must be concerned about. While commending the Federal Government for its efforts to grapple with these challenges, she called on all stakeholders to develop adoptive strategies to solve the problems.
Remarking on the workshop, Dr. Danbaba Nehemiah, Director/Head, NCRI Research station, Ibadan, commend the organizers of the workshop, describing it as timely intervention for food security in Nigeria. He commended the Executive Director of the institute for the towering growth and development initiated into the institute.
The Director of CRIN, Dr Patrick Adebola who was ably represented by Dr Adedeji Rashidi, Director of Research Outreach, CRIN commended the workshop program while corroborating the devastating impacts of climate change and insecurity in farm lands. He however assured that agricultural institutes across the country are making waves to help and support farmers with easy and cheap technology to grow the sector. He related this to the innovative ways CRIN has reached out to support cash crops farmers, especially in cocoa crops. He used the opportunity to commend the director of CRIN, Dr Patrick Adebola who he said is leaving no stone unturn to bring about innovative improvement to better agricultural produce.
Also at the event is Ebenezer Boluade, the special adviser to the governor of Ekiti state on agriculture and food security. He lauded the organizers of the program, intimating that the government of Ekiti is working hard to improve food security in the state through its agricultural initiative on improved seedling of high variety for farmers across the state; and encouraging the use of modern tools and technology.
On how to attract the youth into agriculture, Mr. Ebenezer Boluade assured that the government of Ekiti state has improvised laudable initiatives to make farming attractive to the youth who are the most active part of the population.
These initiatives he has said orientate the youths to see the opportunities that can come from agriculture. He further said that governments at all levels across the country have vital roles to play in food security if we must feed our growing population.
As part of the workshop activities, exhibition stands were available to display agricultural products and innovation for participants. The VC of Obafemi Awolowo University was not left out of this as he moved round the stands to see the beautiful works. He commended the creativity of the exhibitors and assured of supports through the institute.
Other notable personalities that graced the occasion include representatives of VC of FUNAB Abeokuta, NIHORT, NCRI, FORESTRY, IITA, southwest zonal director of agriculture, permanent secretary of Ekiti state, and many more dignitaries.
The Research Extension Farmers Input Linkage System (REFILS) workshop which coincided with the 2022/2023 Annual Research In House Review Exercise focused on the imperative need to develop the nation's agricultural sector. REFILS represents the framework for the coordinating of research and extension activities in all agricultural zones.