From left: minister of agriculture and
rural development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina;
Permanent Secretary, Mrs Fatima Bamidele,
and president IFAD, Dr Kanayo Nwanze at a dinner
in honour of IFAD president in Abuja
"No one is better placed to know conditions on the ground in Nigeria, and to discover solutions to the country's challenges, than Nigerian scientists themselves. We cannot and should not rely exclusively on research done in developed countries to address the needs of developing countries."
Nwanze, a scientist by training, was previously Director-General of the Africa Rice Center for a decade.
As the largest producer of cassava, Nwanze said the country's agricultural sector has immense potential, and that research and development of rural areas are vital to its development. He said that scientists must understand the environment where their innovations and breakthroughs will be used, and the needs of the people who live there. If they don't, their research will never get beyond the lab.
"For research to move from the lab to the field, it needs to be supported by a strong extension system and enabling policies that link research to products and markets so that the applications benefit both the public and private sectors."
Value Chain Development Programme, which was approved by IFAD's Executive Board in April 2012, will help strengthen the existing extension system in Nigeria.
A strong extension system ensures the link between research and farmers, taking new technology from the lab to the farm. Through its interaction with small farmers, extension feeds back information to the scientists to adapt research results to the farmers' needs. The programme will take a holistic approach, driven by demand, to address constraints along cassava and rice value chains. Through an inclusive strategy, it will strengthen the capacity of producers and processors as well as public and private institutions, service providers, policy-makers and regulators.