IITA urges more investment in research to boost agricultural production
International Institute on Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has called on the Federal Government to increase its investment in agricultural research to boost agricultural production in the nation.
Mrs Oiwoja Ooihi, an IITA’s Communication Specialist on the Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA) project, made the appeal in Abuja on Thursday while speaking with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
YIIFSWA is a seed system development project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to assist Nigerian farmers to cultivate improved and high-yield yam seedlings to enhance yam production under the aegis of IITA.
Ooihi said that the increased investment would also empower farmers and guarantee food security in the country.
She disclosed that the institute had a lot of research works on its shelves, which were awaiting resources before being moved and executed.
‘‘My advice to the government is to link with the IITA and its technologies.
‘‘IITA has a lot of technologies in their shelf waiting for resources to move them out.
‘‘The government should invest more money in research to ensure that more people are reached, while more farmers are empowered and sensitised for improved production and general food security in the country,’’ she said.
Ooihi regretted that government usually channelled its resources and paid more attention to cassava production, adding that yam production and farmers were not given as much attention.
According to her, this development has discouraged many yam farmers in the country.
‘‘If you look at investments in yam, compared to that of cassava, it’s like six times lower than what cassava is receiving.
‘‘Cassava is receiving millions of naira in terms of research.
‘‘If the government can put more money into yam investment and create opportunities that yam farmers can hook onto; then, yam can compete with cassava in Nigeria.
‘‘This will encourage more farmers and boost commitment in the business,’’ she added.
NAN reports that YIIFSWA is a new five-year seed yam system, launched by the IITA in February 2017.
The initiative is aimed at ensuring timely availability of improved yam seeds on a commercial basis for smallholder farmers in Nigeria and Ghana.