Director, Strategic Space Applications, National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Dr Halilu Shaba has urged the Federal Government to consider sponsoring the launch of a satellite to boost agriculture in Nigeria.
Shaba made the call at the Annual Space Conference and Exhibition of the Centre for Satellite Technology Development (CSTD) in Abuja.
According to him, dedicating a satellite to agriculture will address hunger faced by the increasing population in the country.
“The government should look at agriculture as a project and launch agricultural satellite because of its revisiting period.
“It should be purely agricultural satellite that will give you information on soil mixture, nitrates nitrogen content and the health of the crop.
“Only this will transform Nigerian agricultural system and I can tell you that within one year we are going to be self sufficient in terms of agricultural products,”
The director, however, identified that revolutionised agriculture with the application of Space Science Technology (SST) would not be achieved with poor budget to the sector.
According to him, properly and consistently financing the country’s satellites will enable effectiveness of the sector.
“The government should increase the budget on Space Science Technology and be consistent with it because when you launch a satellite you don’t allow the satellite to expire before you launch another one.
“If we look at Nigeria Sat 2, it is meant to have expired now and de-orbited and we don’t have another satellite to replace it. That is not how satellite organisations work.
“The country should be thinking of launching more satellites because a satellite at a time is not adequate.
“We need satellites on constellations because one satellite hampers our activities; with the right budget we can revolutionalise agriculture,”
Shaba said that the SST sector would advance if privitisation was encouraged.
He said that synergy between the Ministry of Agriculture and NASRDA would encourage information, data sharing to improve the sector.
According to him, the Ministry of Agriculture will liaise with farmers and educate them on the application of the use of satellites in agriculture.
“We need a lot of advocacy which the budget is not available but we need to work with the Ministries of Agriculture so that they will appoint extension officers to work with the farmers.
“The extension officers will share the information with the farmers, interpret the kind of information sent out because most of them are illiterates.”
The conference has as its theme: “Revolutionising Agriculture through Space Science and Technology Application”