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Strike by research institutes’ workers threat to food security – Researchers

Some researchers have described the ongoing strike by research institutes’ workers across the country as a threat to food security.

The researchers on Wednesday in Ibadan called on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to end the industrial action in the interest of the country.

Research institutes’ workers have been on a nationwide strike since Oct.12.

Prof. Lateef Sanni of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, said that although the strike might not have any significant effect in the short term, the effect might be enormous on the long term.

According to Sanni, a professor of Food Science and Technology, any country that keeps shutting down research institutes should not expect available, accessible, and affordable foods.

“If we want to be like Singapore, for example, we must put the welfare of citizens in our minds and actions.

“With the climate change and change in our lands, we need to roll out disease and stress-tolerant breeds and varieties, and these can only come from robust and uninterrupted research.

“We should promote excellent leadership; we should support the middle class bearing the ripple effects in the various families; we should reduce external interferences in the running of research institutions in the country,’’ he said.

Also, Dr Sunday Oladele, Executive Director, National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB), Ibadan, said that the strike was embarked upon to remind the government of the workers’ demands.

“It has been unhealthy situations in the various research institutes since the strike started, although workers on grade level 12 and below have been at home since owing to COVID-19 pandemic.

“Consequent upon this, many of the experiments, both in the laboratories and on the fields for the development of improved materials as well as multiplication of promising materials for them to be available for the farmers, traders and research scientists, have been terribly affected.

“This, by extension, can ripple effect on food and nutrition security in Nigeria,’’ he said.

Oladele urged the government to look into the matter and settle the institutes as soon as possible.

According to him, settling the workers will avert the food shortage that is likely to face the country in 2022, aside from the challenges of climate change.

“The welfare of research institutes’ employees is paramount to efficient work delivery,’’ he said.

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To Dr Idris Badiru, a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ibadan, beyond using the research institutes as job creation centres, the government should also review its needs for them.

“If we really need research institutes, we should fund them adequately; but if we close them, there will be consequences on us.

“Strikes are becoming too common in the country and they portend no good for anyone, considering the man-hours being lost. This shows our lack of responsiveness to issues as a people,’’ he said.

The institutes are demanding payment of one-year arrears of 53.37 per cent salary increment since 2009 and immediate conclusion of the review of conditions/scheme of service.

They are also demanding the withdrawal of the circular on non-skipping of grade level 10 and the establishment of the National Research Institutes Commission (NARICOM), among others. (NAN)

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