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Food Security: FG Inaugurates Committee To Drive ARCN Act

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Agric ARCN
The Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar (fourth from right) flanked by committee members during their inauguration in Abuja.

The Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, has inaugurated a committee for the implementation of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN) Amendment Act 2021 for the total repositioning of the council and its affiliated institutes and colleges to ensure better performance, impactful research and development activities in Nigeria.

Speaking during the inauguration ceremony held in Abuja, the minister pointed out that agricultural research and development is a crucial determinant of agricultural productivity and production as well as [a means of] boosting food security. 

He reiterated the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration towards advancing research and development activities for the effective and efficient use of agricultural resources and the diversification of the economy.

Abubakar noted that going forward, the focus of strengthening the coordination of research and development activities within the sector will be the creation of a single comprehensive governing board for the ARCN and its related institutes and colleges for effective management, streamlining and economic purposes.

The minister called on the government and the public to continue to encourage the council and its affiliated institutes and colleges to implement technologies to increase the nutrient density of commercial and staples crops through good agronomic practices, conventional plants breeding, or modern biotechnology.

In his remarks, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, stated that the ministry’s responsibility, as enshrined in the newly amended legislative instrument, is to ensure that all ARCN activities are functional in line with the act, in terms of human management, material resources, policies, strategies, diffusion and commercialisation of agricultural technologies.

“Agriculture has been and remains a major focus for engaging individuals and relevant corporate sector entities in agribusiness, to support value chain addition to other commodities, production of adequate food for the teeming population and a major contributor to Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP).” 

Umakhihe maintained that the amended act also intends to place the council in a position of self-sufficiency in the production and use of made-in-Nigeria agricultural machinery, tools and other inputs for food production and economic empowerment. 

He urged all members of the committee to be dispassionate in aligning their decisions with the contents of the amended ARCN Act, to come out with good recommendations for the enhancement of the entire agricultural research system.

In his response, the chairman of the committee, Prof. Bala Abubakar, stated that the reform process that led to the amended act commenced in 2012 after a team of staff of the council, the ministry and other stakeholders undertook a guided tour to Brazil, India and China to understudy global best practices in agricultural research models. 

He said the comprehensive back-to-station report provided the key ingredients of the draft ARCN amendment bill which was eventually assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari in September 2021. This, he said, underlined the need to constitute panels that would extensively review the activities of all institutions of the reformed ARCN.

He promised that the committee will deliver on the assignment to the best of its ability. 

A statement by the Ministry’s director of public affairs and signed by Mrs. Mabel Obe, said the committee members have been tasked to develop a roadmap for the implementation of the ARCN Amendment Act 2021, identify, assess and recommend competent individuals who can serve in the council in line with the provision of the amended act; Identify the salient issues in the new act with the aim of implementation, articulate and identify funding windows that could be explored in the implementation of ARCN Amended Act.

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