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Science, Technology In Agricultural Development

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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.

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Import Of Obaseki’s Speech

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The world has changed. Nigeria has changed. The economy of Nigeria is not the same again whether we like it or not. We have been managing since the civil war. We say money is not our problem. As long as we are pumping crude oil every day there will always be money. So, we have run a strange economy, a strange presidential system. Everywhere else, the government relies on the people to produce taxes, they collect taxes and it is the taxes they use to run the local, state and federal government.
But the way we run Nigeria and subsequently the political parties up till now is that it does not matter. The country can go on holiday; the country can go and sleep. At the end of the month, we all just go to Abuja and we collect money and we come back and we spend. We are in huge financial trouble. First, what we used to rely on, crude oil, forget what you are seeing now as 60, 70 dollars per a barrel. It is only a mirage. It’s only a question of time because the major oil companies – Shell, Chevron are no longer investing as much in oil. Chevron is now one of the world’s largest investors in alternative fuel. Shell is pulling out of Nigeria.
So, in another year or so, where will we find this money that we go to Abuja to share? Last month, the Federal Government printed an additional N50 to N60 billion to top up for us to share. This April again, we will go to Abuja, we will share. By the end of this year, our total borrowings is going to be within N15 to N16 trillion. You can imagine a family, you don’t have money coming in, you’re just borrowing and borrowing and borrowing without any means or idea on how to pay back and nobody is looking at that. Everybody is looking at 2023.” – Godwin Obaseki, Edo State Governor
Yes, it is a long quote but I had to insert it because within these few lines lies the major economic problem of the nation. Of course, Obaseki having been in power for over four years cannot be exonerated from the quantum mess in the country. The economy of Edo State may have nosedived during his administration as claimed by the leadership of APC in the state, but did he hit the nail on the head? Yes, he did. Is the speech a wake-up call? Definitely!
I think it’s high time Nigerians, both in low and high places began to tell ourselves the stack naked truth and stop all the lies and cover ups that are doing the country no good. We all are in this sinking ship and if we fail to realize it or continue to pretend that all is well, when the ship sinks, we will all go down. We cannot continue on the unprogressive lane we have been for decades and expect the country to grow.
Several economic experts have warned time without number about the nation’s over dependence on oil and the danger it portends to the economic growth of the country yet no concrete measure is seen to have been taken to change the narrative by successive administrations. The manufacturing sector is almost dead. The agricultural sector is in bad shape. Even those that have been keeping the sector alive and some other persons that try to go into agriculture are discouraged by the unending insecurity in the country.
The most worrisome issue raised by Obaseki is the revenue sharing method. Our federation is such that monthly revenue accruing from oil, corporate taxes, VAT, customs, and other levies are shared across the three tiers of government- federal, state and the local governments after 13% of any revenue made from natural resources is paid to the origin states of those resources and other deductions associated with collecting revenues is made. In line with the sharing formula, the federal government takes 52.68%, the states share 26.72% while the local governments get 20.60%. Each state gets its own share of the revenue based on a “Horizontal Allocation Formula” with a few factors put into consideration.
With the assurance of the monthly income, many states hardly look inward for other sources of income. Reports have it that up to 14 states fund at least 90% of their budget with their FAAC allocations. With the dwindling oil revenue, the FG may resort to printing more money to be shared as revealed by Obaseki or continue borrowing from countries across the globe and from within. A recent report of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reveals that the country’s total public debt stock, constituting of external and domestic debts stood at N32.22 trillion ($84.57 billion) as at September 30, 2020, indicating an increase of N6.01 trillion within a year. The worst is that there is little or nothing to show for these huge borrowings both at the federal and state levels.
These should be of great concern to any well-meaning Nigerian especially the policy makers who by now ought to be working on policies that will result in a paradigm shift in the country. Gov. Obaseki’s suggestion of raising internally generated revenue through taxes is not a bad idea provided those saddled with that responsibility will be sincere and the money will be judiciously used.
Some analysts have also posited that the current system of government in Nigeria is very expensive and wasteful saying that instead of the presidential system, the country should go back to regional system of government which allows various regions to grow at their pace and engenders competition among the regions. Certainly, that is the way to go. Let the geo-political zones think outside the box, using their abundant natural resources and other endowments to develop themselves. They should be paying stipulated percentage of their income to the federal government instead of the other way round.
It is also imperative that urgent and due attention be paid to the development of the agricultural, manufacturing and other sectors of the economy as well as the revitalisation of all the dead industries across the country. Adequate measures should be taken to tackle the heightened insecurity challenge in various parts of the country because, without security, all plans towards having a better country will be futile efforts.

 

By: Calista Ezeaku

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On 2021 LG Poll In Rivers

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The Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) had since set aside tomorrow, April 17, 2021 for the conduct of election for chairmen and councillors in the 23 local government areas of the state. For this reason, the Commission had already recruited and trained some ad hoc staff and also embarked on aggressive enlightenment campaign on the conduct of the poll.
According to RSIEC, about 17 confirmed political parties registered with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would participate in the election. The present local council chairmen and councillors will be concluding their three-year tenure in June.
The fact remains that the people in the rural areas are yearning for infrastructural development. Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, had often said publicly that he wants to see council chairmen embark on infrastructural development in their areas of jurisdiction. The Governor did not mince words when he said that the chairmen should not wait for him for the development of the rural communities.
It was observed recently that most of the council chairmen performed below expectation. Tomorrow’s election would create a new era in the politics of the state. This is because it will place the rural dwellers in a better stead to carefully weigh the contestants and choose those that are more likely to bring forth such development at the grassroots.
Available evidence shows that RSIEC is not resting on its oars to see that the election is conducted under the atmosphere of peace and tranquillity. The state’s electoral umpire has had serious interface with security agencies in the state. The high-level collaboration is beyond measure.
Its chairman, Justice George Omereji, with his team, is working hard to make sure this election comes out the best in the history of local government elections in Rivers State. Tomorrow’s outing will, therefore, serve as yet another test of the commission’s capability to conduct a credible, transparent and violence-free poll in the state. This may explain why RSIEC is synergising with relevant stakeholders in Rivers State in order to ensure a convivial atmosphere during and after the election.
On their part, the electorate also have to ensure that everything goes on smoothly as they are expected to file out peacefully and vote for the parties and candidates of their choice. There is no need for anyone to sit on the fence this time around. Also, no candidate, party official, security top brass or their proxies should attempt to manipulate the outcome of voting on that day. Let the people’s choice stand.
It is time to change the narrative in Rivers local council polls and, by extension, the general elections in the entire polity. This is why eligible voters should be encouraged to come out in their numbers. Local government is the nearest tier of the governance levels to the rural populace; hence its importance to grassroots democracy.
It is obvious that the Rivers State Government has funded RSIEC sufficiently to conduct this Saturday’s council poll. Therefore, the electoral body should guard against any hiccups. Logistical issues such as late arrival of voting materials at the polling stations should be avoided. This is even more so since the number of participating parties is low.
The former situations where there were reports of ballot-box snatching, ballot stuffing, rigging in hotel rooms and other places outside the polling centres, deployment of thugs and other violent methods should be avoided. Also, sharing of money or the exercise of any other forms of undue influence should be disallowed.
As an impartial umpire, RSIEC is expected to carry along every political party that has volunteered and has been cleared to participate in tomorrow’s election. There should be a level playing field for all as has, so far, been reflected in the campaigns.
It is worth stating that this election is not about RSIEC or the Rivers State Government but about Rivers State and its people among the federating states of Nigeria and beyond. Therefore, justice, equity, fair play and transparency should be the watchwords.
The Rivers State Police Command has assured people of the state of its readiness to ensure a hitch-free local council election tomorrow; following which it has warned politicians who are in the habit of going to vote at their polling units with a retinue of their guards or supporters to desist from such.
Let the civil society organisations, journalists, international election observers who will volunteer to monitor this election ensure that they live above board. They should attempt to reach far and wide as to ensure adequate coverage of the state, considering the importance of this election to the majority of people at the lowest rung of society.
Unlike what had obtained previously, these election monitors should endeavour to issue a collective assessment of the overall conduct of the election so that people elsewhere can always situate complaints from any participants.
Finally, it is good that a restriction in movement had been put in place from 12:00 midnight yesterday to further ensure that mischief makers do not go to work with any clandestine plan to scuttle the election. Obviously, not every political party is participating in the poll. And certainly not all of them will be comfortable if the exercise pulls through as planned.
Ogwuonuonu wrote from Port Harcourt.

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Opinion

Avoiding Half-Baked Graduates

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Recently, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, expressed concern over the decline in the standard of education in Nigeria. One of the problems many managers and heads of organisations, especially human resources practitioners, have complained about is the issue of graduates not being able to write simple and correct official letters.
Application for employment in this 21st century is usually demanded from graduates and probably a few from First School Leaving Certificate (FSLC) and Senior School Certificate holders.
The emphasis on graduates is based on the fact that after passing through primary, secondary before tertiary institutions, there are those who cannot communicate properly.
Despite the fact that parents have invested heavily, they are unable to write simple letters.
It is worrisome that a university undergraduate finds it difficult to write simple “letter to the Editor”.  In fact, this is one of the most important topics every student is tested on during school certificate examination. I wonder what else is taught when this aspect is ignored.
If the primary level which is the foundation is faulty, what do we expect from the secondary and university? A lot of work needs to be done at the foundation.And then everybody wants to go to university. Like the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, said: “University education is not for everyone.”  Those whose interests are on paper qualification should not be offered university admission. There should be provision for tailors, bricklayers, mechanics, painters, plumbers, carpenters,etc,
The National Policy on Education stipulates that after the basic education which terminates at Basic 9 (JSS 3), a child can divert into trade or crafts to acquire practical knowledge, especially if he cannot move to a higher educational level. But this policy has been abused by some parents who are bent on their children continuing even if their performance is low. I’m not sure any parent can allow the child to stop at that level.
The primary school curriculum is being revised from time to time by stakeholders to meet contemporary issues but the implementation becomes a problem. The teacher needs retraining. They should teach because that is what they are paid for, especially in the public schools.
We should do away with “government-thing” attitude. If everything in the scheme of work is taught, then the child should be able to learn and express himself or herself well.
For a long time now, primary and secondary school teachers have not been embarking on strike, the system has been stable and so the pupils need proper teaching.Yes, we should be worried because, every year, a certain percentage of fund is budgeted on education, yet results are insufficient. Stakeholders should monitor the implementation of the funds allocated to education sector, especially at the basic level. This is the foundation.
Infrastructure has to be in place if we are talking about strong foundation. Although in Rivers State, our case is different. The infrastructure is okay, with modern facilities to enhance teaching and learning. The last administration embarked on building of modern schools, well- equipped with ICT-compliance. The present government in Rivers State also built and renovated some dilapidated primary and secondary schools, for instance, Rumuokwuta Model Girls School and many others across the state to world-class status.
A few years back, not less than 10,000 teachers were engaged in public primary and secondary schools in Rivers State. They were all graduates and screened through serious examination before employment. Then, what is the problem?
It would be recalled that during the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, a lot of conferences, seminars, workshops on education were organised on how to move Nigerian educational system forward. Under the supervision of Prof. Ruqayyah Ahmed Rufa’i, Dr Obi Ezekwesili as ministers of education and others, Nigeria’s education system got serious attention.
There were concerns so much that in the South-South region, there was the BRACED Commission. It was made up of Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta States. One of the aims was to put the education system right. Emphasis should be to encourage young people in acquiring formal education. The issue of let me have the paper to acquire a job should be discouraged. For effective teaching and learning to take place, there must be enthusiasm and readiness on the part of the youths.
Some students are to blame for low performance in the university. This is because some of them don’t recognise the reason why they are there. They are only interested in acquiring the certificate. The lecturers may be doing good job, but some of the students are carried away by events on campus.
You can agree with me that even as we are talking about low performance in education, some students are still coming out in flying colours. We still have first-class and second-class materials from the same system in their chosen professions in Nigeria. Students should be motivated to read while the reading culture must be maintained.
Any student who cannot pass or score high grades in the university should retire after primary and secondary education. There are crafts and trade for those who cannot go beyond that level.
A lot of students go to school but not to acquire education. The essence of going to school should be first on how to read and write, and then for acquiring job with the certificate as second option.
Instead of studying, they prefer to go and look for money. They relax bearing in mind that at the end of the day, they will pay their way out; after all, no amount of preparation can fetch them high grades.
Every university in Nigeria employs not less than Master’s degree holders. There is enough manpower in the system. See, education is intentional, you need to work harder with your personal efforts, you must be decisive and deliberate to learn and acquire knowledge. Readiness is also key in this regard.
But researches have shown that Nigerians perform well overseas. Are there still things to be done here? If not when given the same opportunity, they should be able to do same here Nigeria. Although their system is more transparent than ours.
There is this issue of no matter how intelligent you may be as a student; you are denied high grades if you don’t comply. This should be condemned because some children would have obtained five credits at a sitting in their area of specialisation and scored above 200 marks in UMTE. Such students definitely will perform well in the university.
Parents should be able to look at their children’s work at home no matter how tight their schedules may be. Let there be a follow-up on what the teachers are doing in school. Educating the child should not be left in the hands of the teachers alone, it should be our business also.

 

By: Eunice Choko-Kayode

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