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  1. Communiqué at the end of the One-day 4th APRNet National Multi-Stakeholders’ Forum on: “Making Agricultural Policy Research Work for End-Users” Organized by the Agricultural Policy Research Network (APRNet) on Wednesday, 23rd August 2017 at Valencia Hotel, Wuse II, Abuja, Nigeria Download the communique here

 

 

COMMUNIQUÉ OF THE 3RD NATIONAL STAKEHOLDERS’ FORUM ON: MAKING AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH WORK FOR END-USERS,

HELD AT VALENCIA HOTELS, ABUJA, 10TH  AUGUST 2016

 

1.0  Introduction

 

Context

Agricultural research linkages with end-users are evidently very unsatisfactory as many technologies developed by national research institutes are not currently taken up by end-users. Likewise, the input of research findings from policy research institutes (policy think tanks) into policymaking is ad hoc and scanty. There is no synergy between the government (policy makers), academia, research institutes, private sector and end-users (farmers) of agricultural research. Improving the relevance and impact of agricultural and policy research on end-users requires reflective stock-taking, information sharing and learning of best practices by the actors themselves. Just as researchers have responsibility to respond to and communicate with end-users, the end-users themselves should have the orientation and ability to access and utilize research results for increased productivity and incomes. In addition to this issue, the 2016 1st APRNet research policy seminar notes that the problem of reducing Green House Gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture and coping with the negative effects that emanates from non-renewable energy sources (global warming and climate change) would require understanding the roles of renewable energy as an important factor in meeting current and future needs of rural and urban areas especially for the farm communities. The agriculture sector relies heavily on energy; with  about 30% of world total energy being consumed by food systems through  farm mechanisation, the use of petrochemicals & transportation. The 1st APRNet seminar (for 2016) therefore attempted to discuss agriculture and Nigerian populace's benefits and potential from green energy opportunities in Nigeria that could held reduce the impact of GHG emissions from the agricultural sector in Nigeria.

In keeping with its objective to improve linkages and make bridges across research, policy and practice, the Agricultural Policy Research Network (APRNet) in collaboration with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) convened the 3rd National Stakeholder Forum on “Making Agricultural Research Work for End-Users” on 10th  August 2016. The Forum provided a platform for stakeholders to examine the existing approaches in linking agricultural research with end-users with a view to assessing the current situation in Nigeria and proffering actionable measures to enhance research relevance and impact. During the Forum, the premier journal of APRNet, labeled: the National Agricultural Policy Research Journal (NAPReJ Volume 1, Issue 1. ISSN: 2536-6084), was launched.  In addition, the Forum hosted the 3rd  Policy seminar of APRNet which discussed the status and potential of agriculture as a renewable energy source in climate change mitigation in Nigeria. Issues raised in these two events informed the draft of this communiqué.

1.2  Objectives of the Forum

The objectives of the Forum include to:

  • Share knowledge about existing approaches and practices in linking agricultural research with policymakers, farmers and agricultural practitioners;
  • Discuss and learn innovative approaches and practices for more effective research dissemination and research utilization by end-users;
  • Enable the exchange of perspectives and ideas among the producers, providers and users of agricultural research; and
  • Give opportunity for inter-stakeholder interaction and networking - researchers, policymakers, farmers and agricultural practitioners.

1.3 Participants

Participants were drawn from a broad spectrum of relevant stakeholders. They include National Agricultural Research Institutes, agricultural ministries and related agencies, farmers’ organizations, policy think tanks, universities/colleges/faculties of agricultural sciences, agricultural development programmes, private sector groups, non-governmental organizations, agribusiness organizations and the media.

2.0  OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

2.1  STRENGTHS AND OPPORTUNITIES

       i.        It was noted that globally, governments play critical roles in stimulating quality output to grow the agricultural industry.  Development and deployment of agricultural research for development (R4D) output is the critical stimulant of productivity growth in agriculture. Agricultural research for development sector is one of the areas in which the government play the important role of stimulating quality output in the Nigerian agriculture. Despite the fact that Nigeria has the largest National Agricultural Research System (NARS)  in SSA, with: 18 National Agricultural Research Institutes, 19 Federal Colleges of Agriculture, 3 Universities of Agriculture, 50 Faculties of Agriculture, 10 Faculties of Veterinary Medicine, Several State Colleges of Agriculture, 4 International Research Centres, Several Non-State Actors; the linkage of NARS with policy makers, private sectors and end-users has been very poor.

     ii.        The responsibilities of government to public R4D institutions do not in any way preclude the participation of the private sector. Agricultural sector would not attain its potential in productivity growth and the businesses volume without the active participation of the private sector. Several attempts have been made to encourage private sector participation in the agricultural research sector/industry through various programmes. However, participation of the private sector still remains abysmally low.

    iii.        Increasing agricultural research investment would lead to agricultural productivity and productivity growth on the long run. Persistently funding agricultural R4D activities will positively impact on productivity and by extension the industry growth in the agriculture sector. While the Federal Government of Nigeria has been playing a prominent role in the funding of public R4D, State Governments and Private Sector’s involvement have been very minimal The main driver of future growth in agricultural productivity is today’s investment in R4D.  Significant decline in the rate of agricultural productivity growth in developing countries could be attributed to underinvestment in researches that promote productivity.

    iv.        National agricultural research institutes have mixed results but useful experiences in the use of these different methods and techniques. For example, in some states, the Research-Extension-Farmer-Input Linkage System (REFILS) model is making good contribution to connecting agricultural research institutes with farmers and agribusiness actors.

     v.        Renewable energy accounted for 19% of global energy consumption in 2012 and even a higher share in 2013. There is a global debate on the potential of the agricultural  sector as a significant energy producer in contrast to its  traditional role of energy user.  Agriculture is a dominant economic activity in Nigeria.  About 75% of the country’s land is arable, out of which  45% is cultivated.  Agricultural and forestry residues are in abundance due to the low technology used in agriculture by many farmers. Therefore agriculture can serve in improving the supply of energy in Nigeria effectively.

 2.2  DRAWBACKS AND CONSTRAINTS

       i.        Evidence points to a very low level of farmer and end-user uptake of technologies from the national agricultural research institutes. Farmers’ uptake of new technologies and innovations from the national agricultural research institutes is often constrained by lack of complementary resources and inputs to reach optimum performance.

     ii.        Agricultural research has not been adequately mainstreamed or integrated into successive national agricultural policies and programmes, a situation which threatens longer-term sustainability of agricultural growth and development.

    iii.        Existing links established by the National Agricultural Research Institutes to farmers are bedeviled by paucity of funds and lack of strategic long-term planning.

    iv.        There is very little coordination or collaboration amongst National Agricultural Research Institutes working on mutual interest scientific and technological arenas.

     v.        Funds flow from federal government to National Agricultural Research Institutes is irregular, uncertain and short-term in nature. As a result, research programming is difficult and many long-term research projects are often discontinued.

    vi.        State governments and local governments are currently not funding agricultural research, even though, they could do so, considering that agriculture is in the concurrent legislative list. The situation limits the funding sources for National Agricultural Research Institutes.

   vii.        Funds from international development agencies (multilateral and bilateral) and international foundations are project-based, and as such, they are not amenable for longer-term research planning by the national agricultural research institutes.

 viii.        Many states are neglecting the Agricultural Development Programmes, which in its heydays, played significant roles in connecting agricultural research and farmers. The neglect is evident in the shoddy state of many agricultural development programmes due to acute shortage of funds and relegation of its institutional profile in the state-level agricultural development programming.

    ix.        Existing laws and regulatory systems are not adequate and appropriate in dealing with the proprietary issues for the innovations and technologies generated by agricultural research institutes. The situation hampers researcher incentives such as patent rights and deters private investments in the production, commercialization and marketing of new technologies.

     x.        Private sector investments in the research innovations from National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs) tend to be very low, thereby denying the NARIs a potentially important funding source.

    xi.        Agricultural professional associations such as Agricultural Policy Research Network (APRNet), Agricultural Society of Nigeria (ASN), Farm Management Association of Nigeria, Soil Science Society of Nigeria, Nigerian Association of Agricultural Economists (NAAE), Animal Science Association of Nigeria (ASCN), Crop Science Society of Nigeria(CSN) are not supported by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture nor by any governmental body despite their relevance to agricultural policy making. They are also not carried along in agricultural policy derivation in Nigeria which makes the Federal Government vulnerable to committing errors in policy formulations for agricultural development in Nigeria. A more inclusive policy formulation team is required.

   xii.        Strengths and opportunities in developing renewable energy from agriculture that will help mitigate climate change  in Nigeria is not optimized.

 

 3.0  RECOMMENDATIONS:

 

  • What should be done to improve the use of research and by whom?
  • Can agriculture serve as a viable source of biofuel  production for energy use?
  • Can the Nigerian government mainstream climate change management strategies into policies and regulations that enhances the utilization of biomass?

       i.        To promote productivity growth in the agricultural industry in Nigeria, agricultural R4D technologies must be placed in the hands of end-users, and where necessary, their capacities to utilize the technologies must be enhanced.

     ii.        There is a need for government to organize agricultural R4D and promote interventions that would increase technology dissemination and adoption. The reform should be addressing Weak Research-Farmers Linkages through the Adopted Villages and Adopted Schools. This reform will make the extension departments/divisions/units of the Nigerian Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs) more active and increased the engagement with farmers. A multipronged approach to tackling the problem of low technology penetration within the agricultural research and extension system is required to make a meaningful impact.  Universities and Faculties of Agriculture are now involved in the Programme. Research institutions can make significant impacts if they can take steps in doing what they need to do to extend their technologies targeted end-users. 

    iii.        State Governments should actively participate in funding agricultural R4D activities in order to impact positively on agricultural productivity and by extension the industry growth in the agriculture sector. State Governments should end the current neglect of the Agricultural Development Programmes, by strengthening their mandates and providing adequate funds for agricultural extension and technology promotion programmes

     iv.        National Agricultural Research Institutes, perhaps working hand in hand with the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria should engage with private sector (investors) more proactively in the drive to commercialize and reproduce new technologies.

     v.        The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and National Agricultural Research Institutes should jointly create promotional packages for new technologies and innovations such that farmers and technology users have adequate complementary inputs and resources to take up and use new research technologies on a sustained basis.

    vi.        National Agricultural Research Institutes should ensure that technology generation should be based on prior detailed diagnostics of farmers’ problems, constraints and needs, and that new technologies and innovations undergo cross-disciplinary screening. This will ensure that they are not just technologically appropriate but also socially acceptable, economically feasible and holistically viable for end-users.

   vii.        Policy Research Institutes (Policy Think Tanks) should develop stronger collaboration and cooperation arrangements among themselves and with civic advocacy organisations, in order to enhance research dissemination and research influence on policy.

 viii.        The Federal Government through the FMARD should engage academic experts in Agricultural Policy, researchers, private sector and farmers' representatives in drafting Nigerian agricultural policies.

    ix.        Federal Government should give both financial support and moral support to activities of Professional Associations and Networks in the agricultural sector including Agricultural Policy Research Network (APRNet), Agricultural Society of Nigeria (ASN), Farm Management Association of Nigeria, Soil Science Society of Nigeria, Nigerian Association of Agricultural Economists (NAAE), Animal Science Association of Nigeria (ASCN), Crop Science Society of Nigeria(CSN).

     x.        These agricultural professional associations should collaborate with Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria and Research Institutes to promote and monitor the use of research results, through joint events such as research expos, fairs and exhibitions.

    xi.        In the face of the negative perceptions on using food  crops for bioenergy, it would be more beneficial and  sustainable for Nigeria to use non-food crops and wastes as feedstock for renewable energy sources.  Growing of certain energy crops must be dedicated   solely for biofuel production without negatively  affecting the supply of such crops for food.  Government support is needed, especially for remote communities that lack access to electricity to set up  biogas plants for communal use.

Signed on 10th August 2016 in Abuja

 Dr. Anthony Onoja (PhD)
Ag. President, Agricultural Policy Research Network

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