Government Tasked on Support for Local Scientists

Government, at all levels in Nigeria have been charged to support and encourage scientists, in order for the country to develop its research potential.

The charged was given by Emeritus Professor (Mrs) Olufunke Egunjobi at a 2-Day Training Workshop, organized by the Biopesticide Research Team in collaboration with Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and Organic Agriculture Project in Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria, with the theme: “Biopesticide Formulation and Application in the Control of Pests and Diseases of Vegetable Crops in Nigeria”.

Professor Egunjobi who was the Keynote Speaker at the event, said “the fact that pesticides cannot be ruled out of crop production improvement is obvious, the use of Biospesticides however stand supreme above synthetic chemical pesticides.  Indeed, organic agriculture using organic manure is to be preferred to chemical fertilizers whenever possible therefore “The need for our government to have some confidence in our local scientists cannot be over-emphasised”.

(Inset) Emeritus Professor (Mrs) Olufunke Egunjobi delivering the Keynote Lecture at the Workshop while participants listen with rapt attention

The Professor of Plant Nematologists who led the scientific research on neem (Azadirachta indica Juss) and locally known as Dongo Yaro in 1972 said the research produced a safe natural nematicide from the water extracts of the neem leaves, which were not just nematicidal, but also systematic in function, thereby certifying Neem Tree as the Miracle Tree of our time.

The former Commissioner for Education, in Ondo State called on the federal Government to recognize local researchers as part of moves to encourage and motivate them to do more research for the growth and development of the country.

In his presentation titled, “Prospects and Challenges of Organic Agriculture Entrepreneurships in Nigeria”, the Director, Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies (CENTS), Federal university of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Professor Babatunde Adewumi describes organic Agriculture as that which combines traditional conservation minded farming methods with modern farming technologies adding that organic agriculture emphasizes rotating crops, managing pests naturally, diversify crops and livestock and improving the soil with compost additions of animal and green manures.

The Professor of Food Engineering listed the challenges of organic agriculture to include poor solution to agricultural problems because it provides lower yield compared with conventional agriculture and among other.

However, the Director, CENTS pointed out that organic agriculture balances multiple sustainability goals and will be of increasing importance in global food and ecosystem security while organic foods and beverages are at a rapidly growing market segment in the global food industry, stressing that the number of organic farms and market size for organic foods have steadily increased.

Professor Adewumi advised the Nigerian government to adapt to organic agriculture because there are opportunities therein, considering the country vast agricultural resources.

Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kolawole Salako noted that pest and disease infestation remain serious threat to crop production, particularly vegetables, stating that control measure has often been the use of synthetic chemicals which the world of agriculture has viewed as dangerous to human health, arising from consumption as residue in crops.

He added that the need to prevent this dangerous trend of synthetic chemical use brought about the need for use of organic pesticides for control of pest and disease of crops.

Represented by the Chairman, Committee of Deans (CODAD) and Dean, College of Physical Sciences, Professor Amidu Mustapha, the Vice-Chancellor said the Biopesticide Research Team led by Professor Joe Atungwu opted to develop Biopesticide for the control of pest and diseases of crops and also impact the skill of formulation and utilization in the Nigerian farmers and others for knowledge and skill acquisition on Biopesticide formulation and utilization in the control of pests and diseases of vegetables.

Goodwill messages were delivered by Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Nigeria (AOAPN), Institute of Organic Agriculture and Green Economy (INOAGEC) Lagos State University and the Organic Agriculture Project in Tertiary Institution in Nigeria.

Participants at the Workshop include graduates of agriculture from the three Universities of Agriculture in Nigeria namely: Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB); Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike and Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi.