The role of science and technology in the quest for the best method of improving the yield of crops, protecting crops against diseases and pest, making livestock healthy all the time, designing the best method of crops storage and even helping in predicting the climate conducive for agricultural practice can not be over emphasised.
As we know, the use of agricultural equipment and machineries help to making farming and other agricultural practice easier for the farmer. In the advanced countries of Northern America and Western Europe, agricultural mechanisation is the order of the day. A lecturer in American university could, in addition to his leading job own and supervise a poultry complex of about 5,000 birds or more. In the same vein, two farmers could supply the pork needed for a town of 25,000 population. Farmer get attached to banks and get financed to large agricultural ventures. The farmers employ experts with agricultural and management skills and exposures.
For those who venture into risky areas like poultry and piggery, efforts are made to seek the services of pathologists to ensure that the health of these animals and birds are properly taken care of, proper insurance are taken to ensure that where sudden mortality arise, the risk is spread. It is through science and research that better methods of improving the yield of crops are ensured.
Before 1989, local farmers had been used to harvest the local cassava species that were prevalent, only few farmers were used to improved cassava varieties within that year but something sudden happened. Most of the local varieties were no more doing well and thus the mortality rate was high. Food became scarce and the price of a basin of garri rose to between N3,000.00 to N4,000.00 Garri started being sold at one cup for one naira. Many families could not afford it as some supplemented with corn flour, which was cheaper.
The only way out was that most farmers moved to adopting the improve yield variety (IYV) and resistant variety. Luckily, Onuanwo was ready to assist the entire state and beyond as people from different parts of the state and beyond moved to Onuanwo for tuber and stem.
Crop protection is very vital in agriculture. Disease affects plants and leads to delay in metabolic activities, stunted growth, shedding of flowers and fruits and sometimes the actual death of the plant. Cultural and chemical control are most of the time used. Culturally, crop rotation is adopted, burning remains after harvesting, regular weeding of the soil, proper spacing of crops using of high yielding and resistant varieties and practicing of irrigation during dry season are adopted.
The use of chemical control is the result of research. Though certain side effects are associated with certain chemicals, it still remains that one of the most effective ways of reducing pathogens, fungicides are used to controlled fungal diseases. These includes lime, cumin copper, Bordeaux mixture etc. Bacterial diseases are control by certain antibiotics like cuprous axide (copper oxide), certain dust from mercury, copper and sulphur. Since viral diseases are difficult to eradicate certain insecticides they are used to control the insect vector transmitting the viral pathogens.
Also nematodes are controlled with infanticide like Nemagon, Vapan D-D and methyl bromide. We are fully aware that without vehicles, engine powered boats, aeroplane and other means of transport like motor cycles, bicycles, wheel barrow and trucks, it will be difficult to transport raw materials to the farm for planting or harvest crops from the place of production to the market for sale.
Those mentioned of technical means of transportation are very important in agriculture and without them, the production and evacuation of food will be very difficult. In advanced countries and few of the developing nations a eroplanes are used for spraying particularly, when locust are seen to be devastating hundreds of hectres of farmland.
Good roads that are tarred help in the evacuation of foodstuffs from the hinterland to the urban areas or others areas where they are needed. The use of different types of vehicles as were mentioned before are catalysts towards the realization of those lofty goals.
Science and research help in reducing hand-wiping off animal disease which are inimical to proper animal production the world over. Some of these diseases and pests include foot and mouth disease, cattle plague, newcastle disease, mad cow disease (Ebola disease) tuberculosis, anthrax, bovine mastitis, fowl pox, cocotchiosis, aspergillusis, ringworm, tape worm, roundworm, tick etc.
With the advice of agricultural and veterinary experts, the problem of farm animal will always be solved Large farm holdings even in Northern States of Nigeria have veterinary clinics that are well stocked with drugs, vaccines, etc. building engineers develop farm building like pens for livestock, and pigs, silo, cribs for storage and even the construction of dams to supply water and electricity to agricultural establishments and the masses.
Even in Nigeria, the adoption of fertilizer in our agricultural system especially in the savannah and the Sahel area of the country has helped to boost yields. Right from the establishment of NAFCON at Onne, the use of fertilizer had gained ground in this country.
Nigerian farmers particularly those in the Northern states have utilised the fertilizer produced scientifically in Nigeria for the improvement of their agricultural inputs. Infact, modern farming can not perform well if the inputs of science and technology are not utilised.
Lastly, the Agricultural Development programme (ADP), is research oriented. It is one of the duties to teach their staff the latest research in agriculture. These staff would pass on these to the local farmers practically, to boost food production after the floods.