By Rabiu Sani
Maiduguri – The Federal Government has established a Farmer Help Line centre in Maiduguri to enhance access to extension and farmer support services in the northeast.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the establishment of the centre was a collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Lake Chad Basin Research Institute, Maiduguri.
The centre had been equipped with modern communication gadgets designed to provide services to farmers in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Yobe and Taraba states.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Mustapha Baba-Shehuri, said at the inauguration of the centre on Friday in Maiduguri that the project was part of comprehensive programmes to transform operations of research institutes in the country.
Baba-Shehuri disclosed that the centre was knowledge-driven to answer questions from farmers on issues affecting production, preservation and processing techniques.
He added that “the centre is also designed to educate and impart relevant knowledge and skills needed to help farmers in their farm activities.
“A farmer can talk to the workers at the centre and ask questions if they cannot answer the question base on the available data in the system, they can reach out to other research institutions in China or U.S. to answer the question of the farmer.
“There is disconnect between research institutions and the people they are supposed to serve, so, were are thinking of having mini radio stations in the institute.
“This is because most rural farmers are not used to Information Technology (IT) or cell phone conversation but listen to the radio more.
“There is huge catchment of radio listeners so we are thinking of establishing radio stations dedicated to agriculture, it will go a long way in giving the push needed to make the sector the driver of the economy.”
Earlier, the minister revealed while addressing staff of the Lake Chad Basin Research Institute that government had adopted proactive measures to reinvigorate its operations, to enable it work toward encouraging effective transformation and utilisation.
Shehuri added that government would provide special interventions to research institutes to encourage studies aimed at boosting agriculture activities and achieve self-sufficiency.
The minister promised to forward requests presented by the management of the institute to government for necessary actions.
Dr Omirin Adewale, the Chairman, Governing Board of the institute, commended the minister over the visit, adding that it would go a long way to boost the morale of staff.
Adawale urged government to provide adequate fund to the institute to facilitate rehabilitation of facilities destroyed by insurgents and rainstorm.
He also called on the ministry to approve the appointment of a substantive director for the institute, currently serving on acting capacity, noting that the measure would go a long way to enhance its operations.
The minister inspected facilities at the temporary site of the Federal College of Freshwater and Fishery Technology, Baga.
Shehuri also inspected facilities at the COPLAD Mills Nigeria Limited in Maiduguri.