The executive secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Arc Sonny Echono has tasked the Association of Deans of Agriculture of Nigerian Universities (ADAN) to bring their expertise to bear by making the Agricultural sector attractive and profitable for the farmers.
Echono who gave the charge when the Association paid him a courtesy call in his office in Abuja, said it is regrettable that efforts at transforming the Agricultural landscape have not yielded much success.
He advised the Association not to renege, but to galvanize all the necessary support needed to ensure the transformation of the Agricultural Sector to make it desirable for the younger generation. This he noted can only be achieved by pursuing a robust Agricultural programme and mechanized farming thereby doing away with archaic farm tools.
He said this is achievable if we modernise our Agriculture to make it attractive to the younger generation. By doing so, we must pursue a robust programme by adopting simple modern tools to replace all those tools and equipment that are archaic. We must also leverage technology to find new ways and better ways of doing things like irrigation, new and better agronomy practices, and the use of extension.
“My challenge to you is to promote things like irrigation, so we can have two or three cropping seasons in the year and cropping and planting will be done under controlled conditions because ultimately the entire value chain of agriculture will be developed as a business. So from soil selection where you determine what type of crop is best suited for a particular soil or even to the other field of aquaculture, livestock and all the other value chain to the issues of seeds, good quality seeds that will guarantee higher yield, because as long as agriculture remain at subsistence level, at the wavering of the weather, the benefit from it will be inadequate to either attract or sustain people,” he added.
The TETFund boss further urged ADAN to help farmers create the right market and eliminate possible middlemen who take undue advantage of farmers, by exploiting them through giving them false incentives such as loans with high interest rates, seedling at exorbitant prices and at the same time create artificial scarcity to punish the masses.
To eliminate these ugly trends, the Executive Secretary encouraged ADAN to take advantage of the quality of personnel available to them to show greater commitment through funding, research and through effective communication and mobilization of farmers across the entire value chain of Agriculture.
He assured them of TETFund’s support within the confines of its mandate to assist in this sector to ensure Agriculture becomes a major contributor to the growth of Nigeria’s economy.
On his part, the president of ADAN, Professor James Olumuyiwa Jayeoba, while congratulating Echono on his well-deserved appointment, stated that the successes recorded by ADAN was largely because of the huge funding support it has enjoyed from the Fund through its various intervention projects in the Institutions.
Acknowledging the support from the Fund, he pleaded for more intervention from TETFund in areas such as research on commodity specialization and equipping Agricultural Institutions to help them reach their full potentials.
On the issue of Agriculture not being encouraged nationally, Professor Jayeoba called on the Federal Government to improve Agricultural Infrastructures and create jobs for graduates in the field. On the part of Agriculture as a business he made it clear that ADAN has various incubation centers across the country that focus on different Agricultural Produce that has been helping farmers for improved yields.