By Dipo Olowookere
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has highlighted some key things to put in place in order to boost agriculture in the country.
Speaking on Saturday at the unveiling of a 10.5km ring road named after the Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the institute’s Agricultural Transformation Building, in Ibadan, the former Nigerian leader said the huge gap between research institutions and the smallholder farmers in the country must be closed.
According to Mr Obasanjo, ordinary farmers must enjoy the benefits of innovations and research breakthroughs to ensure total agricultural transformation in the country.
Speaking further, he identified lack of political will to implement various policies formulated by successive administrations in support of agriculture as the bane of the growth and development of the sector.
The ex-President said that the country had enough policies on paper capable of transforming its agriculture sector to one of the most productive in the world, but for lack of proper implementation.
Mr Obasanjo commended the efforts of the IITA in agricultural research development in Africa, urging the institute not to rest on its laurels.
He also eulogized the governor for supporting IITA through the construction of a perimeter fence within the sprawling complex, which he said was a demonstration of his administration’s support for agricultural development.
In his remarks, Mr Ajimobi said that his support for IITA was in furtherance of his administration’s transformation of the agric sector.
The governor also acknowledged the contributions of the institution to the state’s agricultural development and the successful implementation of its various policies formulated to enhance the growth of the sector.
Mr Ajimobi disclosed that the state had comparative advantage of a wide arable landmass, concentration of research institutes in Ibadan, clement weather, agric-friendly policies of the state and vast population.
In addition to these, he said that the pervading peace and security in the state makes it the best place to invest and promote agriculture.
Earlier, the Director-General of IITA, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, said that the rejuvenation of IITA facilities in the country was crucial to the institute’s sustained efforts to transform agriculture in the continent of Africa.
He said that the institute was excited with the exemplary gesture of the state government in supporting infrastructure in an international agricultural research center.
Dr Sanginga said that the naming of a road after Ajimobi was one of the ways to show the depth of the gratitude of the management of IITA to the governor for his uncommon assistance.
The DG said that the newly constructed agricultural transformation building would accelerate the pace of research and accommodate the critical human and material resource needed to bring transformation to the agricultural sector.
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