DIRECTOR’S SPEECH FOR CSTDWEEK 2018
A welcome Address Presented by Engr. (Dr) Spencer Onuh, Director/CE Centre for Satellite Technology Development (CSTD) Abuja at the 8th Annual CSTD Week/Conference 14th – 15th August 2018
I am pleased to welcome you all to the 8th edition of CSTD Annual Week/Conference on Space Science and Technology with a theme “Revolutionizing Agriculture through Space Science and Technology Applications”.
The fear, sometimes mentioned in discussing the opportunity of continuing this series of international conferences on space science and technology is that the field may be diminishing in interest. This fear is clearly eliminated when one sees the great number of papers submitted to this conference. However, only a rather small fraction of the announced contributed papers could be accepted for oral presentation because the responsible committee felt that conducting parallel sessions would be denying majority of the participants access to critical information.
I am pleased to inform this gathering that worthy technical papers from this conference will be published as a “Special Edition on Space Science and Technology” in the Arid Zone Journal of Engineering, Technology and Environment (AZOJETE). The Journal is a peer referred journal with the objectives to explore, develop and elucidate the knowledge of Engineering design and technology, to keep Practitioners and Researchers informed on current issues and best practices, as well as serving as a platform for the exchange of ideas, knowledge and expertise among technology researchers and practitioners. AZOJETE is published by the Faculty of Engineering, University of Maiduguri, Nigeria.
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The Chairman of National Population Commission (NPC), delivering Nigeria’s statement in New York on Sustainable Cities, Human Mobility and International Migration in the 51st Session of Commission on Population and Development, has put Nigeria’s present population at 198 million people. The Chairman, Eze Duruiheoma said that “Nigeria remains the most populous in Africa, the seventh globally with an estimated population of over 198 million. The recent World Population Prospects predicts that by 2050, Nigeria will become the third most populated country in the world. The question is, are we planning to save the projected population from hunger and poverty? World Bank Report states that three out of four people in developing countries live in rural areas and earn as less as $2 a day. However, a country with this magnitude of people must have a robust economy to sustain the teeming population of the country. China and India, the most populous countries in the world with over 1.3 billion people have diversified economies and happen to be exporter of agricultural products after they have met the needs of their countries. More than 300 million people in China are related with China Agriculture which is almost 50 percent of the total work force that China has got. China produces wheat, rice, potatoes, peanuts, millet, cotton and many other things. It is of interest to know that over 50% of Nigerians are rural dwellers and occupy a large expanse of land that can be maximized to feed the nation and generate huge amount of revenue for the government through agricultural practices.
Ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important than food. A nation that does not feed itself becomes a threat to its own sovereign existence. Growing our own food, processing what we produce, becoming competitive in export markets, and creating jobs all across our economy, are crucial for our national security. In the 1960’s Nigeria was self-sufficient in food and was well known for its global position in major agricultural commodities. We found oil and became too dependent on it. Nigeria soon became a net food-importing nation, spending on average $11 billion on importing wheat, rice, sugar and fish alone.
As we know, oil will not last forever. The future trajectory of earnings from crude oil does not look good, as other nations are finding shale oil and shale gas. We must free ourselves from dependency on crude oil. Applications of space science and technology to our agricultural sector is inexhaustible, we have the greatest potential to achieve this – and now is the time.
Food Security, Eradication of Extreme Hunger and Poverty are vital components of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Africa boasts more than one quarter of the world’s arable land but it only contributes a meagre 10% of global agricultural output. With persistent rise in population and economic growth, food demand is increasing at alarming rates at the expense of production. It is therefore imperative that Africa nations employ the most effective and economic agricultural practices, modern tools and innovative technologies in agriculture to ensure high yield, reduce hunger to its barest minimum, and develop smart strategies to realize the expected SDGs goals.
As a matter of fact, if the process of economic development is to be initiated and made self- sustaining, it must begin with agricultural sector. The agricultural sector is the backbone of an economy which provides the basic ingredients to mankind and raw materials for industries.
A space-based technology is of value to farmers, agronomists, food manufacturers and agricultural policymakers who wish to simultaneously enhance production and profitability. It is thus a veritable tool to modernize and ensure precision agriculture in revolutionizing our agro based economy. Space based agriculture is therefore fundamental to economic growth, well-being, wealth creation and employment generation. To this end, this year’s conference will give extra weight to the need to revolutionize agriculture via space science and technology applications.
It is appropriate timing that such an event take place to highlight the remarkable contributions which Space Science and Technology Applications make in so many areas of our lives, particularly how it can be used to revolutionize agricultural sector of our dear nation. A glance through the list of presentations planned for the next two days reveals the amazing diversity of these applications.
Thus, conferences such as this provide a valuable opportunity for research scientists, engineers, industry specialists and decision-makers to share experiences. It will also serve as a platform to explore the feasibility of creating collaborations with other sectors and companies in the industry for the development of indigenous space assets to ensure maximum returns on investments.
I am grateful to the many experts who have come to share their knowledge this week. I also welcome the many representatives of governments, industry associations and NGOs who have joined us. Distinguished guests, let me express on behalf of the Management and staff of CSTD, our most sincere desire that the conference will create a more robust awareness and positive partnership that will contribute substantially to the socio economic development of our nation.
We have the privilege of holding our conference in the beautifully equipped Prof. Boroffice conference building on NASRDA’s campus. I wish to thank warmly Professor Seidu Mohammed, Director General/Chief Executive NASRDA, for his kind hospitality in these remarkable conference facilities and his continuous support for the Annual Conference.
Let me also express our profound gratitude to the Keynote Speaker: Prof. Placid Njoku, (the Pioneer Vice Chancellor of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike. Abia State – Nigeria) for honouring our invitation despite his other international engagements. We are privileged to have you Sir. I remain grateful and loyal to the Guest Lecturer : Dr Halilu Shaba (Director, Strategic Space Applications –NASRDA. Obasanjo Space Centre, Abuja FCT, Nigeria) for honouring our invitation despite his tight schedule and challenging responsibilities. Finally, I thank the Chairman and members of the Organising Committee for a fantastic job in putting up a better organization of the conference than previous years.
Before coming to a close, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to remind you and especially our moderators to strictly stick to our time schedule and not to let any session overrun.
Distinguished guests, members of the press, ladies and gentlemen, I have the honour to invite the Director General National Space Research & Development Agency, (NASRDA) Abuja Prof S.O. Mohammed for his opening remarks and to declare the conference/week open.