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Experts Canvass Establishment Of Agric Trust Fund

Experts in Agric have solicited for the setting up of an Agricultural Trust Fund that will look at financing research development aimed at increasing food production in the country

Abioye Olarewaju, Ilorin

Experts in aquaculture and post harvest researches in Nigeria have called for the establishment of Agricultural Trust Fund (ATF) to finance researches aimed at boosting food production in the country.

The research experts made the call on Sunday at the end of a four-day scientific workshop on aquaculture held at the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Ilorin.

The workshop was sponsored by the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) in Nigeria to boost fish production and reduce its importation.

Researchers were drawn from NSPPRI, Nigerian Fisheries and Fresh water Research Institute (NFFRI), New Bussa and Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR), Lagos.

Prof Olufemi Peters, NSPRI Executive Director (ED) told journalists at the end of workshop that the trust was necessary to enable agricultural based Research Institute access fund to carry out their activities.

The ED, speaking on behalf of his two colleagues in NFFRI and NIOMR said Agric Trust Fund was also necessary since Research Institutes cannot access funds from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND).

Prof Peters said Research Institutes in the country were hamstrung by paucity of fund for their activities.

The Professor of Chemistry said Executive Directors of the three research institutes have met with the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture on the Trust Fund.

He commended WAAPP Nigeria for providing fund for the three institutes to carry out research into technology that would boost fish production and reduce post harvest loss.

Peters said WAAPP mandated the three research institutes to develop cost effective technologies for fish smoking and drying, packaging materials for marketing processed fish.

He added that both NFFRI and NIOMR were mandated to develop cost effective fishmeal from local aquatic resources using Clupeid and Lantern fish.

This, according to Prof Peters was to replace imported fishmeal as well as enhance the growth of fish production in the country.

The NSPRI boss also said that both NFFRI and NIOMR were to come up with how to improve the growth performance of catfish fingerlings through intra specific hybridization and tilapia through genetic improvement.

Prof Peters however said that the three institutes have recorded tremendous successes in all areas of their mandate during the phase 1 of WAAPP Nigeria project.

According to him, WAAPP Nigeria intervention programme was designed to improve living standard of Nigerians and reduce poverty in the society.

He said NSPRI has designed environmental friendly smoking kiln that is collapsible, easy to transport and can collect oil from the smoked fish.

He said fish smoked by the kiln is clean, fresh and free from poly aromatic hydrocarbon which he said can cause cancer.

Peters also said that the institute has designed solar kiln capable of drying stockfish that can compete favourably with the one imported from Poland.

He said the institute also designed fish box that can hold fish fresh for up to 30 hours.

Professor Peters added all the products produced under the project needed financial support and massive investment in order to make them available to the target peasant farmers.

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