The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) on Friday called for a paradigm shift to move the agriculture sector from subsistence to commercial practises that would lead to rapid industrial growth.
The NSE made the call in a communiqué issued at the end of the International Engineering Conference and Annual General Meeting of the society in Abuja.
The NSE President, Mr Mustafa Shehu, read the communiqué.
According to the communiqué, the sector needs fresh impetuses to enable Nigeria achieve food security for its citizens, especially in the development of relevant machinery for small-scale farmers.
The communiqué stated that in spite of the recent progress, the agriculture sector continued to face challenges related to inefficiency and low productivity.
It decried the indiscriminate importation of tractors, implements and agro-processing machines, which could be locally manufactured, noting that it was hindering the effort to promote agricultural mechanisation with the attendant consequences.
The communiqué urged the tiers of government to facilitate the synergy between the incubation centres and local entrepreneurs to manufacture the equipment needed.
It said that public and private sectors should support the current efforts of National Centre for Agricultural Mechanism (NCAM) in the extension and commercialisation of some of these proven mechanisation technologies.
It suggested said that Research and Development Centres should be empowered through appropriate legislation to carry out agricultural machinery and implements testing and certification.
According to the communiqué to acquire and transfer technology for the support of critical sectors of agriculture and water, there is need to foster functional linkages between academia, professional bodies, regulatory bodies and the industry.
“For Nigeria to increase food and water security, the nation must glean insights from information, understanding trade-offs among policy choices, and establish institutional mechanisms to support execution.
“The 3rd National Water Resource Master Plan about to commence operation in 2014 provide definite roadmap on water demand structure for five principal areas of Municipal Water, Irrigation, Aquaculture, Livestock and Industry.
“For the nation to meet this projected water demand, strategies for composite supply drawn from surface and ground sources should be sustained with quality infrastructure development plan,’’ it stated.
It stated that stakeholders must be given a voice and real responsibility in a collaborative water infrastructure planning, development and management so as to share ownership.
Nigeria, it added, should put in place appropriate policies and institutional framework to ensure a coordinated development and management of land and water.
The communiqué further stated that governments at all levels, private firms and civil society should mobilise and pool resources for sustainable development and management of critical water infrastructure.