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.