Minister charges Universities of Agriculture on innovations

Ene Okwanihe, Abuja

The Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh (Third from right) with members of the Agric Universities' Governing Councils. Photo by Aishat Ayijimoh Onusi, Office of the Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development.
The Governing Council of the three Universities of Agriculture in Nigeria have been charged to come up with innovative ways of making agriculture more attractive to encourage more people to venture into to field.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria Mr. Audu Ogbeh gave the charge at a meeting with the Pro- Chancellors and governing council of the Universities of Agriculture in Abuja Nigeria’s capital.

In his welcome address the Minister said oil boom years and trying to imbibe foreign economic policy had adverse effect on the economic growth of Nigeria.

He said it is now time for Nigeria to worry about providing food for the populace as the oil boom years are over hence the need to seek alternative means of boosting the Country’s economy.

To forestall disasters in the future, we must act now. We must reason together and act for the good of us all.”

Mr. Ogbeh urged the Universities to look into ways of making agriculture attractive to the younger generation.

He said mechanization is the way forward in Agriculture for the younger generation as the old generation that are into agriculture now will definitely fadeout in the nearest future enhance the need to introduce the young ones to agriculture.

The Minister said that the Agriculture sector is relying largely on the Universities of Agriculture to drive the transformation needed in the sector.

He said the institutions should focus on agriculture and ensure that they utilize to full capacity the lands available to them by assigning lands to undergraduates for practical.

In the new dispensation, every undergraduate must- and I repeat- must own a farm on campus from 200 level; Graduation should be based 60% on practice and 40% theory. We are training high level young farmers who, even before graduating, should have started earning a living. We should be training graduates who should be going straight into production, with credit support from their alma-Mata, produce chicken, eggs, goats, milk, set up meat laboratories, bake bread and above all produce and sell large quantities of high quality hybrid seeds.”

Mr. Ogbeh further urged the institutions to look into the issue of seeds as farmers in the country are desperately in need of seeds and also seed production can serve as a source of revenue generation for the institutions.

In the area of human medicine, the minister said the Faculty of Human science will be modified and the Faculty will now be called Colleges of Nutrition and Medical Sciences.

The faculties will now be called Colleges of Nutrition and Medical Sciences; Nutrition is a new area currently attracting worldwide scientific attention. Ninety percent of human disabilities are reportedly traceable to what we eat or fail to eat.”

He said the Ministry is working to remodel the Universities in other to resolve some grey areas.

Mr. Ogbeh however assured students and lecturers of institutions that there won’t be job losses or cancellation of ongoing courses in the university.

In his remarks,  the Pro- Chancellor and the Chairman Governing Council of the University Of Agriculture Markurdi Prof. Alkassun Abbah said the government should Endeavour to put modalities in place to ensure continuity.

He said now that the biggest employer of labour in the country is Agriculture and it is the duty of the Universities of Agriculture to not only help the Ministry of Agriculture put an end to importation but also ensuring that agriculture becomes a profession worth being ventured into.

Prof. Abbah said the Government needs to look at reducing the interest rate on Agriculture loans.

He said the high interest rate is making it difficult for people to go into agriculture as some people wants to go into mechanized farming but can’t afford the machines.

It would be recalled that earlier this year, the Federal Government of Nigeria returned the three Federal Universities of Agriculture to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development from the Ministry of Education.