Research Should Meet Societal Expectations - Professor Showemimo

A Professor of Plant Breeding in the College of Plant Science and Crop Production (COLPLANT), Professor Francis Showemimo, has added his voice to the growing call that  research conducted in the country should be geared towards meeting societal aspirations, saying “we have done a lot of research in this country.  What we need to do is to patent them, commercialise and mass produce them. Research should be done to meet the needs of the people and provide solution to problems”.

    Professor Showemimo said one of the ways to make this a reality, is for the government to stop paying lip service to research and decentralise its mode of operations, particularly, when it comes to implementing the policies on agriculture, to ensure food security in the land. “I would say that decentralise the centre, empower all the federating units and make them powerful enough to cater for what they can achieve through crop production.  If government can do that, research will go a long way to solving our myriads of challenges”, he added.

    Professor  Showemimo, who is also, the Director, Institute for Human Resources Development (INHURD), said he believed that with the right atmosphere and funding, the various product lines that FUNAAB produces were enough to financially sustain the University.  “The product line that we have is enough to generate enough money for FUNAAB.  Garri alone can sustain FUNAAB if we know how to reach the people such that they would come and queue up to buy. This is possible, not to talk of palm-wine, palm-oil, honey and cashew nut.  The name, FUNAAB, would sell such products because people know they were scientifically produced with a lot of quality assurance”, he stated.

    Professor Showemimo, who is a Rice Breeder, said the Ofada Rice varieties FUNAABO I and II were approved for release by the National Variety Release Committee in 2011, after passing through due process and the requirements of the national committee. Professor Showemimo also added that the Ofada FUNAABO I is also known as Ofada White, while Ofada FUNAABO 2 is called Ofada Gold. According to the University don, the Ofada White has pure white grain or seed colour and it is tastier  than Ofada Gold, which is more nutritious than the Ofada White. He revealed that Ofada Rice was currently being produced and exported by a company in the country, adding that majority of the Ofada Rice in circulation was a complete mixture.  He advised diabetic patients to eat the improved variety of Ofada Rice, to reduce the level of sugar and increase antioxidant vitamins in their system.

    The Professor of Plant Breeding in the College of Plant Science and Crop Production (COLPLANT) of the University, said he supported the Federal Government’s initiative to stop rice importation but noted that the process had to be gradual. “It is possible to stop rice importation, but not in 2017.  Maybe 2017 should be the first phase of 50 per cent reduction in importation, then 80 per cent by 2018 and by 2020, the total phasing-out could be carried out.  Before we can stop importation, we must have enough rice we can consume and export. But, if we do not have enough rice to consume and possibly export, it will be difficult to stop importation”.

    On how to increase rice production, the Don said government should resuscitate farm settlements, empower interested agriculturally inclined-youths and create conducive atmosphere for states to grow crops that they have comparative advantage over others. “States like Niger, Kebbi, Ebonyi, Anambra and Ogun have fertile lands to grow rice in large quantities.  I believe that it is the best way the government can go and they cannot just start it at the centre.  It must be at the states.  Each state must know the crops they can produce in large quantities.  Benue, Plateau and Nasarawa States, are good for tuber crops like yam, cocoyam, sweet and Irish potato, while, Ebonyi, Anambra, Imo, Edo, Delta, Rivers States can produce all palm products in large quantities. Jigawa, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina can produce pepper, tomatoes, onions. These states can go into massive production and export to states that do not have such privileges. There is need for conscious effort and monitoring to kill the taste for foreign rice.  No matter how bad our rice is, we will continue to improve till we get there”, he further stated.