DG’S WELCOME ADDRESS FOR CSTDWEEK 2018
A welcome Address presented by Prof. S.O. Mohammed, Director General/CE National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) at the 8TH Annual CSTD Week/Conference 14th – 15th August 2018
It is my pleasure and delight to welcome you all to the 8th Edition of the Centre for Satellite Technology Development (CSTD) 2018 Annual Space Conference. I would like to thank the Centre for Satellite Technology Development (CSTD) for setting up this laudable Conference. CSTD continues to set the pace in the development of unique innovations in micro satellite design and emerging technologies, domestication of research innovations and serve as a hub for research and development in space science and technology.
This year’s Conference theme titled “Revolutionizing Agriculture through Space Science and Technology Applications” is very significant to us as an organization and the country as a whole, because it touches on a sector that is critical to the lives of all Nigerians regardless of tribe, religion or class.
Nigeria is currently experiencing an agricultural revolution as a result of the Federal Government’s diversity program in which other sectors of the economy are being jumpstarted in order to insulate the country’s dependence on oil. So it’s safe to say CSTD is leaving up to its mandate by exploring ways in which Space technology can be used as a critical driving tool to improve agricultural practices and in turn better the lives of the average Nigerian.
I have always said Nigeria’s Space Policy should be tailored to the country’s reality and social-economic situation, in order to have the citizens fully exploit the benefits of space technology. Since its inception NASRDA has always sought to establish projects that best optimize its satellites for space applications that benefit the Nigerian populace. Some of these projects include; the Telemedicine project in which NASRDA partnered with the Federal Ministry of Health to use technology to provide health care to the much desired rural populace using space applications. Nig Sat1, Nig Sat 2 and Nig sat X have in the past successfully geospatially mapped the entire country and as such, performed important national tasks such as monitoring desertification in the north, pipeline monitoring in the Niger delta, security surveillance within and around the country’s borders, etc. I believe that the Guest lecturer, Dr. Shaba will discuss in details some of these areas.
In Nigeria today one can’t help but notice the current farmers/herdsmen crisis hitting up the polity. This crisis can be directly linked to the scarce availability of arable agricultural land because over time the country’s vegetation has gone through dramatic changes as a result of climate change, population increase, manmade activities, etc. It is therefore imperative for the Nation to undertake constant and regular geo-mapping of its environs to assist in proper planning and development.
The significance of this year’s CSTD theme cannot be overstated. Agriculture is a very significant sector in the Nigerian economy, and it can be argued, the most important, even more-so than oil. Although oil revenues contribute 2/3 of state revenues, it only contributes about 9% to GDP as opposed to 26% by Agriculture. The huge labour force requirement of the sector makes it a viable employer of labour which is an important ingredient for Nigeria to grow past being an emerging economy into an economic power.
Research in modern farm practices will be greatly aided by space technology. Low earth observation satellites or drones could be used to map entire areas highlighting the best vegetation for specific crops. Smaller maneuverable satellites such as the cube-sats and nano-sats when equipped with the right payload can map an area’s topography which can in turn be used for setting up large irrigation sites, which is a prerequisite for large scale agricultural farming.
The Space Agency is in collaboration with a number of universities and research institutes in the areas of agriculture. This accounts for the collaboration with the only private University of Agriculture in Nigeria – Landmark University, Omu-Aran, Kwara State. We believe that such collaboration is beneficial to both parties in revolutionizing agriculture in Nigeria.
Nigeria as the leading space agency in Africa, and coupled with the advantage of a large and growing population, the country is well positioned to achieve significant breakthrough in the agricultural sector. Our primitive agricultural practices of the past have no role in the technologically advanced societies of tomorrow. The use of Nigerian satellites and space technology has the enormous capacity to revolutionize agriculture in this country and in Africa as a continent. I strongly believe that the use of Space Technology in agriculture is a significant tool for the restoration of the dignity of the Black race.
Finally, I would like to close my speech by again welcoming everyone to this conference and wishing the Management and staff of CSTD every success at this conference. I also hope that every participant would have fruitful and meaningful exchanges in these two days.
It is my honour and privilege to declare the Conference open.