From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Agriculture sector stakeholders have called for the adoption of emerging technological tools in the advancement of agriculture and food production processes that would assist in addressing challenges of food insecurity and malnutrition in Nigeria.
Specifically, they suggested the deployment of Juncao technology, a Chinese technology, said to have proven its efficiency around the trio of fodder production, land reclamation and mushroom production. These are essential components of pasture development, environmental management and climate change mitigation.
The stakeholders also confirmed that the innovative technology hold potential promise to boost efforts of the Federal Government to make the best use of huge agricultural resources, towards sustainable livelihood as enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) charter.
Juncao technology is a technique that utilises Juncao as medium or raw material through the decomposition, promotion and symbiosis of fungi to produce mushroom, functional food, feed, fertiliser, biomass energy, biological materials and to apply in environmental protection.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammed Abubakar, confirmed the efficacy of the technology in Abuja, last week, in his remarks at a national workshop on the application of the technology and its contribution to the achievement of the SDGs.
The national workshop, which was organised by the AUDA-NEPAD, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), and others, was attended by smallholder farmers and other relevant stakeholders both at the national and sub-national levels.
In his opening remarks, the Minister of Agriculture who was represented by Abdullahi Abubakar, stressed the importance of the technology and its potential contributions to the achievement of sustainable agriculture in Nigeria.
He confirmed that the innovation is in line with the refocusing efforts and strategies of the Federal Government to address extant gaps in management of natural resources as they relate to feed and fodder security, environmental management, food sovereignty, and their inalienable nexus to improved livelihood and human development.
He pointed to the fact that the changing climate has had negative impacts on agricultural production, and might challenge food security in the future, hence the suggestion of adoption of the technology.
He said, “provision of fodder in sustainable manner and mitigation of climatic impacts of the livestock ecosystem are part of major challenges to deriving optimum dividends from Nigerian livestock endowment. We would leverage the potential of Juncao technology to boost these efforts.”
Chief Executive Officer, AUDA-NEPAD, Gloria Akobundu, in her remarks, said that government was doing its best to alleviate poverty, but with a population of more than 200 million people with over 60 per cent within the youth bracket, there are chances of communities being exposed to insecurity, youth restiveness and malnutrition, except deliberate measures are put in place to forestall their occurrence.
She highlighted that domesticating Juncao technology will create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs, promote agro-businesses, enhance nutrition, curb youth restiveness and boost security through gainfully youths engagement, and value to the economy.
Juncao representative in Nigeria, Amson Sibanda, said in his submissions that the World Bank records indicate that agriculture represents nearly an $8 trillion industry globally, stressing the need for Nigeria to harness and leverage the application of advanced technology such as Juncao to benefit from this $8 trillion industry, in addition to contributing to protecting the planet, enhancing food and nutrition security.
Sibanda who is also UN Chief Strategist confirmed that Juncao technology can strongly support Nigeria’s plans in agriculture, value addition, and beneficiation of key value chains and linkages, among other actions.
“As the UN system, we remain committed to continue working with all partners to transform food systems and achieve the SDGs and Nigeria’s national development priorities as outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP).
“To build the capacities of local researchers, we will be offering small competitive research grants to one or two agricultural universities interested in undertaking research on domesticating the Juncao technology in Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, at the end of the three-day workshop, participants were exposed to the opportunities Juncao technology has in mitigating and remediating environmental degradation, food security through application as feed for animal husbandry, mushroom production and feed additives for poultry and fisheries.
They were urged to embark on developing strategic communication tools in multiple languages that educate people on the benefit of the technology across the value chain as well as secure collaboration with private sector operators to set up demonstration and distribution centres that can be easily accessible to individuals and communities who are interested in adopting the technology.
They were also encouraged to engage in meticulous data collection and storage to better understudy the technology in the Nigerian climate in order to improve application, development and domestication across the value chain.
Participants were also made to understand that Juncao technology will also be useful in solving the farmers/herders crisis.