Philip Kwaya, Head, Department of Agricultural and Bio-environment, Federal Polytechnic, Nasarawa State, has called on governments to directly empower local farmers with funds and agro-allied equipment to enhance their productivity.
He made the call in an interview with the News agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday at the ongoing Technology and Innovation Expo 2017 in Abuja.
Kwaya, who is an exhibitor of some agro-allied machines produced by students of the polytechnic, said that the government could empower local production of the machines to spur mechanised farming.
“We know that the government initially imports these machines to help farmers, the government should patronise us to render the services.
“The government can also empower the local farmers directly to afford these machines.
“This is because the farmers need modern farm tools but they don’t have the means of accessing funds to purchase the tools and this is affecting their productivity.’’
Kwaya said that the government should be rational in improving agriculture by making the local farmers to be the focus in remodeling the sector.
He explained that his participation in the expo was to create awareness on the capability of technological advancement in the institution and the country at large.
“We are at the expo because we have several machines on the shelf and they are finished products that are working well.
“And there is no publicity and we feel we should come to showcase them either for teaching purpose or for research, and for the local farmers and the big time farmers to increase their productivity.
“They don’t need to think outside Nigeria, the human resources are there and the local materials are readily available.”
Kwaya said that the institution had produced melon shelling machine with blower that could shell about 400 kg of melon per hour with the efficiency of about 98 per cent costing just about N200, 000.
“Accordingly, we have machines for processing millet, grains and other farm products, the materials are locally sourced,’’ he said.
Kwaya said that accessing government funds had been difficult which had made the researchers to resort to their institutions and students to sponsor productions.
“All the materials used for the production of the machines were locally sourced; they are just ordinary sheet metal and angle iron, iron rods, the one readily available in our local markets.
“It is completely an indigenous technology.
“The government through Tertiary Education Trust fund sometime ago said we should access funds for fabrication but due to the process involved, it is difficult to access those funds.
“At the end of it, some of the productions are sponsored by the institution, while some are sponsored by the students themselves,” he said.
He, however, called on the government to make the process of accessing funds easy to encourage technological innovations in institutions.
The expo, with the theme: “Science, Technology and Innovation for Nigeria’s Economic Diversification”, began on April 3 and will end on April 7.
It brings together exhibitors, scientists, technological innovators, investors, technology experts from the Diaspora, among other stakeholders in science and technology sector.