The National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security have initiated discussions to leverage their combined technical capabilities and resources to enhance the development of agro-allied industries, climate change mitigation and smart solar irrigation for dry-season farming.
During a meeting held on November 6, 2023, in Abuja, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Sen. Abubakar Kyari; the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Security, Hon. Aliyu Abdullahi, and the executive vice chairman of NASENI, Mr. Khalil Halilu, concurred that their collaboration would advance the ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda of the President Bola Tinubu administration.
Kyari highlighted the centrality of the agricultural sector to the success of the eight socio-economic recovery programmes outlined in the ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda. He praised NASENI for including agriculture as one of its target areas and emphasized the importance of President Tinubu’s commitment to food security and other key programmes.
Halilu and his team were warmly received by Kyari, Abdullahi and the ministry’s directors. Halilu conveyed NASENI’s readiness to collaborate with the ministry to boost agriculture and achieve food security through the adoption and transfer of technology.
He explained that NASENI’s technical expertise, technologies, and international partnerships were poised to make Nigeria self-sufficient in food production, food processing and exports. NASENI is currently refurbishing approximately 50,000 broken tractors nationwide as part of the presidential initiative to encourage large-scale land cultivation.
Halilu disclosed that NASENI has secured local and international technical partners to work on projects that include mass-producing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for insecticide spraying over extensive farmlands, introducing solar-powered water irrigation to enhance both wet and dry season farming, and adding value to the agro-allied value chain. The collaboration plans also encompass crop traceability, a rice straw project, climate change mitigation through scientific and technological research and the reduction of food imports.
“We are undertaking development activities in agriculture from production to commercialisation. The main objective is how we can add value to our agricultural produce or raw materials before they are consumed or exported. We seek the ministry’s cooperation to transfer, adapt and commercialise foreign technologies brought into the country,” Halilu stated.
Since taking office, Halilu has received numerous requests for NASENI to enhance agriculture, from production to the market. He revealed that NASENI’s participation in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Forum in China garnered approximately $6 billion in investments, with around 40 per cent of the funds allocated to agriculture.
Abdullahi expressed appreciation for the visit by NASENI’s EVC and his team, emphasising the importance of inter-ministerial collaboration and synergy in realising the government’s goals of alleviating poverty, creating jobs and addressing socio-economic challenges in Nigerian society. The focus on food security was highlighted as a top government priority.
It was agreed that the collaboration between NASENI and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security would play a pivotal role in the transformation of the agricultural sector and the achievement of the ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda’s objectives.