The Nigeria Society of Chemical Engineers called for the formulation and implementation of policies that would promote smart agricultural value chain in the country.
The National President of the Society, Engr. Onochie Anyaoku, made the call at a press briefing ahead of their 49th annual conference, in Kaduna.
The theme of the conference is Enhancement of Agricultural value chain for economic development: the role of chemical engineering.
“Farmers should be taught on the use of ICT in value chain operation, provision of interest free loans, provision of physical infrastructures and formation and execution of good implementatable policies.”
Anyaoku further states that the chemical engineering sector could enhance agricultural value chain through production of better fertilizers and herbicides for increased yield and protection from pest and weeds.
“The chemical engineering sector can also engage in processing of agricultural raw materials into semi-finished products, packaging of finished products, enhancing the taste, looks and appeal of food”, he said.
Anyaoku said that the conference was aimed at bringing together policy markers, industrialists, the academia, research institutes, the private and public sectors among others to discuss and proffer solutions to agricultural and economic development.
He noted that the agricultural sector in the 1960s had contributed 85 percent of the Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings, 90 percent employment and about 80 percent of to Gross Domestic Product.
“Since the discovery of oil, agriculture has faced neglect; even though it’s no longer the leading foreign exchange earner, it remains the dominant economic activity in terms of employment.”
Anyaoku said chemical engineering, known for its role in oil and gas industry, could improve the agricultural sector through conversion of any primary material into immediate or end product like sugar.
He further said that materials and foods such as flour, beverages,vegetable oil, cement, fertilizers among other could also be chipped into the chemical process industry for better economic values.
Proffering solutions to the agricultural values chain, Anyaoku said that farmers should be linked to markets and adequate funds provided for inputs to improve efficiency.
Reports state that the conference would hold from Nov. 14-16, in Kaduna.