Why farmers’ indigenous knowledge is vital




There are many factors that can contribute to high yield and agricultural cultivation. A crucial one is the role played by farmers’ indigenous knowledge in crop production. The piece of information was given by the 71st Inaugural Lecturer of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State and a former Acting Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Ololade Enikuomehin, who has called for the engagement of this kind of knowledge, to unravel and exploit the hidden potentials of nature for improved crop protection.

The Professor of Plant Pathology made this known while delivering his lecture titled, “Tending the Inaudible: The Management of Plant Afflictions with the Endowments of Nature”, at the Oluwafemi Balogun Ceremonial Building of the institution. According to him, a renewed effort was necessary to engage farmers’ indigenous knowledge, adding that being conversant of different plants, potentials and the peculiarity of the respective ecosystem was very important in developing efficient crop protection strategies. The don stressed that the existing information gap between researchers and indigenous farmers must be bridged, to utilise the endowments of nature in plant disease management, noting that further research into other viable plant products and environment-based crop protection practices should start from rural farmers.

He reiterated that plant products and environment-based protection practices should be given more emphasis by researchers and policy makers in Nigeria as a way of reducing the cost of crop production, saying the time was ripe for a Plant Protection Policy in the country. Prof. Enikuomehin pointed out that “A missing link in the quest to utilise the endowments of nature in plant disease management is the information gap that currently exists between researchers and indigenous farmers in the various farming systems”. The former Acting Vice-Chancellor noted further that the panacea to plant afflictions lie within the plant and its surroundings, stating that plant-based resources such as crude or fermented extracts and ash, ecosystem management practices like intercropping, plant population density, and planting arrangements had been verified to protect plants from fungal diseases.

The Inaugural Lecturer emphasised the need for federal universities of agriculture and national agricultural research institutes in the country to be strengthened and funded adequately to enable them contribute more to plant protection. Prof. Enikuomehin, however, lauded the Acting Vice-Chancellor, who chaired the event, Prof. Olusola Kehinde, as well as his predecessors for their sacrifices at making the university a leading institution. Prof. Enikuomehin stressed that the job of a lecturer was to contribute to human development, adding that his research outputs had proffered solutions to how to manage plant diseases. The don, who is of the Department of Crop Protection, College of Plant Science and Crop Production (COLPLANT), said the fact that the government was not encouraging entrepreneurship enough was discouraging, saying that unavailability of funds and inadequate facilities had deterred students from going into agriculture.

He, however, called for complementary efforts in terms of government policies and interventions from non-governmental organisations, emphasising on the need to have favourable government policies in place that would encourage private enterprises to invest in agriculture and research. “There should be complementary efforts from government and NGOs with emphasis on good policies, which would encourage private sector to effectively invest in agriculture and research”, the Professor added. Meanwhile, the Agura of Gbagura, Oba Saburee Bakre, Jamolu II, has admonished the Acting Vice-Chancellor to surpass the achievements of his predecessors, who had worked tirelessly for the development of the institution and the country at large.

“You have to work harder much more than your predecessors because you’re at home and a son of Gbagura”, the monarch stressed. The Agura said he was happy to be at the institution and highly impressed with the institution’s achievements so far while wishing the institution the very best and God’s guidance always. Prof. Kehinde appreciated the monarch and his team for the visit, saying the entire students, staff and management of the university were very happy to receive them, adding that the institution was ranked 9th among top 200 universities in Nigeria. “FUNAAB is ranked 9th among top 200 universities in Nigeria. We are sitting on 10,000 hectares of land on Gbaguraland and we have utilised it well for the growth of Gbagura, Egbaland, and Nigeria”, he stated.

The major takeaways from the lecture presentation revolve around the imperative of engaging farmers’ indigenous knowledge because of their grasp of different plant species, potentials and the peculiarity of the respective ecosystem to the development of efficient crop protection strategies. Not only that, it reminds us of the need to bridge the information gap between researchers and indigenous farmers so as to utilise the endowments of nature in plant disease management, as more research into other viable plant products and environment-based crop protection practices should to allowed to begin from rural farmers. In addition, plant products and environment-based protection practices should be given more emphasis in Nigeria as a way of reducing the amount of money spent on crop production while practices like intercropping, plant population density, and planting arrangements should be promoted to shield plants from diseases.

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