Heineken Lokpobiri, the Minister of State for Agriculture, on Tuesday said the Federal Government has spent about N2.8 billion as compensation to poultry farmers who lost their birds to avian influenza nationwide.
Mr Lokpobiri told newsmen shortly after a familiarisation tour of Agricultural Institutes under Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria, Kaduna State.
DAILY NIGERIAN reports that the institutes included Institute for Agricultural Research, IAR, and National Agricultural Extension Research and Liaisons Services, NAERLS.
Others are National Animal Production Research Institute, NAPRI, and Division of Agricultural Colleges, DAC.
The minister said: “Like I said earlier, we have just paid about N2.8 billion as compensation to people who lost their birds to avian influenza.
“Meanwhile, NAPRI took over a decade to be able to do research and we are able to get the birds that were resistant to avian influenza.
“But many Nigerians are not aware, even those that are aware do not know that NAPRI has the capacity to multiply and supply same to the market.
“Therefore, the institute has no business crying for money, you need to commercialise your research product,” he said.
The minister observed that commercialisation of research had become a norm globally, hence the need for Nigerian research institutes to join the queue.
According to him, the professors and researchers are spending so much time and energy doing researches and evolving technologies which should be commercialised by the institutes for maximum benefits to the public.
“What is the essence of doing a research if you cannot take it to the public, when they commercialise, they will get some additional money on top of what government is giving.
“This will change the whole dynamics of the agric sector and we have given that mandate to all our research institutes to do a lot more research, government cannot provide sufficient money for them to meet all their needs.
“But they have to do what they are paid to do, commercialise the research outputs not only to Nigerians but to the whole of the world, so that we can begin to use those products to get money from the rest of the world.”
Mr Lokpobiri commended the agricultural institutes for a job well done, saying, “I have heard so much about what the institutes are doing and what ABU is doing, I am very happy that I am here today, I have come and I have seen.
“I will like to come back again and again until we achieve the objective for each of those institutes and you will agree with me agriculture wasn’t receiving the desired attention before this government came into power.
“But we are trying as much as possible to increase budgetary allocation to agricultural sector on a sustainable basis and the President is committed to ensuring that whether oil is $100 per barrel, agriculture is the way to go.”
He identified agriculture as the only path for Nigeria to attain self-sufficiency, adding that it was the only sure way to create jobs for the people, curb restiveness, reduce poverty and get people committed.
Mr Lokpobiri explained that the present government was trying to make agriculture a business, adding that in the past, people see agriculture as a way of life.
The minister said agriculture had now become a business in every part of the world, adding that the richest people now are farmers.
“The richest people are those who are investing in agriculture because you may be an investor in oil and gas, I may decide not to patronise you, you may be an investor in textile, production of cars among others.
“Not everybody has a car but everybody eat food, whether you are poor, rich, healthy, sick, young, old you must eat food, but you may decide to wear one cloth for one year nobody cares.
“But you can’t eat a plate of food and have it again, so food is the most important industry in the world.
“Therefore, government is calling on Nigerians to see agriculture as a business, invest in it and create wealth for themselves,” he said.