Abuja (National Conference News) – The National Conference in Abuja has tasked states and local governments across the country to revitalize the already existing skills acquisition and agricultural training centres in each senatorial district as initiative for agricultural transformation.
In a bid to make farming attractive to the younger generation, the Conference demanded a policy prohibiting educational institution (primary to secondary) from using farm work as a form of punishment for students’ misbehaviour. On the loss of soil fertility, the Conference urged government to in formulating its policies, take cognizance of climate change and desertification by introducing species of trees and crops that are easily adapted to deserts and requires minimum water to survive.
The Conference also advised the Nigerian Government to invest heavily in Date Palm plantations to develop its related industries in communities with serious desert encroachment challenges. It therefore agreed that the Government should encourage and promote large-scale breeding and domestication of these species of animals. They resolved that the Bio-Safety Bill to regulate trans-border movement of genetically modified drugs should be initiated and enacted by the National Assembly without further delay.
On irrigation, the Conference recommended that major irrigation infrastructure in the North – West be extended to other parts of the country as a way of boosting farming in those areas. It said that manpower development or capacity building and training programmes on the management, operation and maintenance of the different components of large – scale irrigation schemes whether surface, non-pressurized or pressured, should be intensified by the government.
The delegates agreed that flood plain agriculture should be included in the irrigation programme as a check against unnecessary flooding. They called for the involvement of farmers, herdsmen and rural dwellers in formulating policies pertaining to soil degradation in a bid to achieve a bottom-up-approach to addressing the problems of soil degradation.
On the need for a unified agricultural extension system that would involve visiting and training farmers within the area of coverage, the delegates asked policy makers to ensure that Nigerians participate in agricultural research programmes at both the continental and regional levels so as to benefit from the results of such research. The Conference also requested that government should grant low interest and long tenured micro-credit loans to assist the private sector support for agricultural development; adding that urgent review of the curriculum of agricultural research institutes across the country should reflect more of the practical and less theoretical aspects of agricultural research.
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