The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, has said that Nigeria’s greatest potential was in agriculture and therefore must be free from over-reliance on oil.
Adamu made the assertion at the closing of the 20th National Junior Engineers, Technicians and Scientists (JETS) Competition at Faith Plaza, CMS Grammar School, Bariga Lagos on Friday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the national science-based competition for primary and secondary school students got underway from Tuesday to Friday in Lagos.
The theme of this year’s competition is “Enhancing Food Security through Science and Technology Applications’’.
Adamu said that JETS competition remained one of the avenues whereby students were prepared for requisite scientific knowledge in all spheres of life.
“JETS competition remains a key driver and an effective tool for preparing students with requisite knowledge, skills and innovations to meet the scientific technology challenges.
“The competition is also a catalyst for satisfying the demands of our present and future economy,’’ he said.
Adamu said that the theme of this year’s competition was borne out the need for the government’s change agenda concerning agriculture.
“The theme of this 2017 annual JETS competition is very pertinent and in harmony with the Mr President’s change agenda concerning agriculture.
“The challenge facing the Nigerian agriculture sector has been that of food insecurity and which could simply be defined as inability to produce food that will go round every citizen both in quality and quantity.
“Nothing is more important than food. A nation that cannot feed itself becomes a threat to its own sovereignty.
“Growing our own food, processing what we produce, becoming competitive in export markets and creating jobs all across our economy is crucial for our national security.
“Nigeria was food self-sufficient in the 1960’s and was well known for its global position in major agricultural commodities.
“Oil was found, and the country became too dependent on it, and soon turned out to be a net importing nation spending on average of 11 billion dollars on importing wheat, rice, sugar and fish alone,’’ he said.
The minister said that the country must be free from over-reliance on oil as the mainstay of its economy.
“Nigeria must free herself from depending on crude oil. Agriculture is the sector where the country has the greatest potential to achieve this, and now is the time.
“One of the veritable ways of combating food insecurity is the deployment of science, technology and innovations which involve mechanical, chemical and biological inputs such as fertilizers, tractors and improved livestock breeds and crop varieties.
“Science, technologies and innovations will become even more important as the world population rises to 9 billion by 2050, with less land available to produce food and declining levels of water.
“The focus now therefore, must be on how to produce more food, with less land and water while conserving the environment.
“With the main objective of JETS which is to use science and technology to solve everyday problems,’’ he said.
NAN reports that Akwa-Ibom emerged winners of the 20th edition of the JETS competition with over 400 students in attendance from all the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory. Abuja.