Agricultural Revolution: Babcock University setting the pace in Nigeria.

 By Barnabas Esiet
At a time the country is reeling from a battered monolithic economy occasioned by falling crude oil prices in the international market among other factors, there appears to be a ray of hope in the area of agriculture, if what is happening at the department of Agriculture Babcock University is anything to go by.

The director, business investment group, BIG, of the institution, professor Mrs. Yetunde Makinde, told a delegation of National Association of Agricultural Journalist, NAAJ,  at a forum in Ilisan-Remo, Ogun state, that Babcock University has entered into a thripathied agreement involving the Danish Government, and the Adventist Church which would revolutionalise agriculture and impact investment leading to sustainable development in agricultural business with exceptional employment opportunities and attractive return on investment.

Professor Makinde said under the  Ingrower project worth $2.5million, graduates from the university would be sent to farm settlements, covering about 100hecters of land with 100housing units, where unemployed youths would be trained for a minimum of 18months  to produce various Agric products including vegetables and poultry.

"Nigerians will hardly go into anything they are not sure would be successful so we are determined to make this project a success then when that is done we can then invite the government to come in. We are already talking to the Ogun state government to give us land to give to those we would train in the scheme at affordable prices "

She said Babcock University has already provided the needed land  for the pilot project in Nigeria as 12 states in the country have indicated interest in the ingrower programme.

Other erudite scholars from the institution also called for; increased budgetary allocations to agriculture, price stabilisation as well as partnership with research institutions and religious organizations in the country to grow the industry.

According to professor David Daramola, of the Agronomy Department" budgetary allocation to agic is too small, more money should be put into research and technology so that farmers can practice agriculture the modern way.  price stability policy must also be entrenche., Ghana took over from Nigeria in the area of cocoa production because of price stabilisation".

For his part, Dr. Joshua Adeyeye of the nutrition and Dietetics department decried government's inability to revive agriculture in the country while blaming the situation on poor leadership " government is not doing enough in agriculture we need a compassionate leader who has the capability to revive agriculture. Rather than bring in tractors government has been encouraging importation of okada. Government must be told to enthrust money to religious bodies and institutions with integrity to develop agriculture " he added.

Meanwhile one of the graduates of the institution, Habib Temitope, who manages about 100 hecters of farm land in Awa-Ijebu , has called on the Federal Government to provide the enabling environment that would encourage more people to embrace farming in the country through rural infrastructural development and funding as well as greater commercialization and mechanization of agriculture.

He identified lacck of adequate reward, poor funding, lack of health care facilities, access roads and lack of access to other social infrastructure in the rural areas as major disincentives to agriculture in the country.

" one of the major problems farmers in the country are facing  is in the area of reward as farming in Nigeria has never been profitable enough owing to many issues including the critical problem of lack of basic infrastructure in the rural areas government expenditure is focused in the urban areas no one is talking about development in the rural areas people are not encouraged to move to the rural areas to farm because there is no access to social amenities"

"Funding is another challenge, many people are willing to go into farming but cannot access funds, poultry production for instance is capital intensive if you don't have the funds there's little or nothing you can do but the areas where the government can really support is rural development, acces roads health care facilities, telecom and Internet services in the rural communities" he said.

Temitope noted that the country needs to optimize mechanization and commercialisation in the country to meet increaseddemand for local rice, poultry products and other food crops.

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