The National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security have commenced discussions on how to deploy existing technical competencies and other resources by the two institutions to improve agro allied-industries development targets, climate change mitigations and smart solar irrigation aimed at dry-season farming.
The trio of the Minister of Agriculture & Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, the Minister of State, Hon. Sabi Aliyu Abdullahi and the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NASENI, Mr. Khalil Suleiman Halilu who held the meeting in Abuja yesterday 6th November, 2023 agreed that the nascent collaboration between NASENI and Agric Ministry was aimed at enhancing the focus and deliverables toward achievement of the Renewed Hope Agenda by the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration.
The Minister, Senator Abubakar Kyari gave insight to some of the essentials in the 8-Point Renewed Hope Agenda of the government, saying that about six of the eight socio-economic recovery programmes have the starting points in their achievements rooted in the success of the Agricultural sector, his ministry. Therefore, the Minister commended Halilu, EVC of NASENI and his team for having agriculture as one of the Agency’s target areas to work. “I won’t be tired of saying that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has given my Ministry the responsibility to carry out one of the important programmes in the 8-point Renewed Hope agenda, which is food security and five others.” he said.
During the visit, Halilu was received not only by Senator Abubakar Kyari and the Minister of State, but all the directors in the Ministry were present at the meeting. Halilu said the Agency was ready to collaborate with the Ministry to boost agriculture and also achieve food security through technology adaptation and transfers.
Addressing the Ministry’s top government functionaries, Halilu explained that NASENI’s technical manpower, technologies and also international partners were ready to work in ensuring that Nigeria becomes self-sufficient in food production, food processing and exports. Part of the efforts in actualizing this goal, he disclosed, is the on-going NASENI Scheme to refurbish about 50,000 broken tractors across the country under the presidential initiative, aimed at bringing back the culture of large cultivation of lands for farming.
According to him, the management of NASENI has secured both local and international technical partners to work with the Agency to mass-produce Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for spraying of insecticides over vast farm locations, sustain afforestation, introduce solar-powered water irrigation to increase wet and dry season farming yields, cold chain food processing and agro-allied value chain additions for preservation and processing of foods in commercial quantities and exports.
Halilu said the collaboration plans with Agric Ministry includes crop traceability, rice straw project, mitigation of climate change through scientific and technological researches or innovations by NASENI to increase food production, value addition and ensue Nigeria’s dependence on food imports reduce significantly.
We are embarking on development activities in agriculture from production to commercialization. The key thing is how we can add value to our farm produce or raw materials before they are consumed or before exporting them out of our country. Also, as for foreign technologies brought into our country, we are seeking the cooperation and collaboration of the Ministry to transfer, domesticate and commercialize such technologies. In a nutshell, this is why we are here” Halilu stated.
The EVC said since assuming office, he has been receiving a lot of requests in terms of how NASENI could add value around agriculture from production all the way to the market. He disclosed that a recent outing by the Agency at the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Forum in China attracted about $6 billion dollars’ investment and about 40 per cent of the monies will be channeled to agriculture
As his remark on the significance of the meeting, the Minister of State expressed appreciation of the visit by NASENI’s EVC and his team, describing the move as progressive and patriotic. He said the time to put an end to inter-ministerial competition and rivalry is now, rather, synergy and collaboration amongst government institutions should become the new culture and orientation.
He underscored the earlier statement by Senator Kyari that one of the Federal Government’s current priorities is food security. Therefore, he called for alignments with the Agric Ministry’s focus not only by NASENI but other Agencies with related functions in order to actualize the Government’s intentions to alleviate poverty, create jobs and tackle all other socio-economic ills in Nigeria society.
L-R, the Minister of State for Agriculture & Food Security Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, EVC/CEO NASENI Mr Khalil Halilu and Minister of Agriculture & Food Security Senator Abubakah Kyari in a group photograph after the meeting on Monday in Abuja.