The Federal Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has declared that henceforth undergraduates of agricultural institutions must first among other things, show their farms before they are allowed to graduate.
The universities of agriculture were statutorily established for agricultural development and were supposed to be under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture. However, due to policy somersault, they were said to have wrongly migrated to the Ministry of Education before now.
The announcement was made by the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh recently during a meeting with the representatives of the three institutions in Abuja said the focus should be redirected to the institution’s original mandate. He said they shall be repositioned to train the young generation of technologically-based farmers.
Ogbeh who said that the government may not cancel any of the non-agric subjects the universities are currently teaching but assured that all students of the institutions with immediate effect must be ready to contribute to the economic recovery plan of the present administration through diversification into agriculture, and must develop and own a farm before graduation.
“Now all undergraduates of the institutions must have a farm to qualify them for graduation. We do not forbid the teaching of electives like some accounting, business administration and so on, but only as subsidiaries.
“The main courses must be agriculture, agronomy, botany, animal husbandry, forestry, fishery, plant entomology, breeding, cattle breed improvement, Agric engineering, veterinary medicine,” Ogbeh said.
He said noted that the government is trying all it can to solve the problem of food security and will ensure that through innovations coming from the institutions.
“There may be an immediate reaction to the innovations we are bringing to bear on your campuses. For example, you may experience a sharp drop in admission. We know many of our younger ones are not too keen on agriculture. It is not attractive enough, they claim. Do not worry about this, and other distractions.
“Attitudes will change because, undoubtedly, agriculture is a profitable business to those who choose the path of patience and endurance. They will come running once they see the prosperity and fulfilment in those who dare to try.
The minister also stressed the need for the three universities to commence new colleges, like nutrition and medical science to take care of the innovations that are expected in the sector.
“Now to one innovation which we consider most strategic. We are aware that some of you branched off into human medicine. This is one area we will fully endorse and support but with an important and strategic modification. The faculties will now be called Colleges of Nutrition and Medical Sciences.
“Nutrition is a new area currently attracting worldwide scientific attention. Ninety per cent of human disabilities are reportedly traceable to what we eat or fail to eat. As Hippocrates said as far back as 390BC, ‘let your food be your medicine and let your medicine be your food’,” he said.
“If we pay attention to this, we may not only be drastically reducing our national health bill, but also be raising the bar of our currently low life expectancy average. What we grow- the soil, the use of macro and micro nutrients; how we harvest, store process, package and cook our meals have all become something worthy of deep academic investigation. You, more than anyone else, must make it not only your business but also your encompassing passion” Ogbeh noted.
First appeared in Tribune.