The Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) has revealed that it was focusing on agriculture rebirth in its 2016 conference as a way of addressing the shame of the country arising from its inability to feed her citizens in spite of the huge fertile land and several agro opportunities.
The Chairperson, NIPR 2016 Annual Conference/Annual General Meeting (AGM), Mrs Yetunde Alagbe, said this while addressing reporters on the conference slated for Premier Hotel, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, next week.
The annual conference has as its theme: “Networking for National Economy: the Synergy of Agriculture and Communication.” It will hold from April 13 to 15.
Mrs Alagbe said the theme of the conference/AGM was borne out of the need to revive agriculture in Nigeria through effective public relations tools among all stakeholders, particularly farmers and agricultural technology innovators.
Alagbe bemoaned neglect of the development of agriculture by Nigeria since the discovery of oil, saying current economic realities call for a return to the farm but that it must be guided by improved knowledge by farmers and other players in the sector.
She said public relations specialists are equipped with the knowledge and strategies to effectively communicate useful information to farmers, researchers, governments, investors and other stakeholders in the new drive to revamp the nation’s agriculture under the ‘Change Agenda’ of the current Federal Government.
“We all know the importance of agriculture as earlier stated in the economic growth of any nation can not be over emphasized. The cocoa of the West, palm oil of the East and the groundnut pyramid of the North in the 1950s could attest to this. It is through agriculture that food, fibre, foreign exchange and raw materials could be provided…
“It is also worthy of note to know that the country has 15 national ago-based research institutes, three specialized universities of agriculture, over 50 faculties of agriculture in conventional universities, a lot of international research organizations that are generating technologies to improve agricultural production, and, of course, vast natural and human resources. Yet, with all these, we cannot feed ourselves let alone exporting our products to earn foreign exchange. So, where did we go wrong?”
She emphasized that the conference will seek the way out, particularly as it relates to how to use public relations as a professional skill.
“We discovered that one of the major problems apart from corruption confronting agriculture was how to communicate technology or innovation to farmers who are the end users. There is also the problem of communicating the importance and benefits of agriculture to industrialists who can change our practices from subsistence farming to commercial agriculture.”
She also added that inadequate communication strategies was one of the banes of major national agricultural projects including Operation Feed the Nation, Green Revolution and the Agricultural Transformation Agenda.
To address these, Alagbe said that NIPR was poised to create and sustain a synergy with the government in order for Nigeria to come out of its present shameful condition of inability to feed her citizens, create employment and earn foreign exchange through agriculture.
The Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, and his Information and Culture counterpart, Alh. Lai Mohammed are expected at the conference. It is being co-hosted by the NIPR chapters in the six Southwest states of Nigeria.