‘Value chain training, key to agriculture development’

Government’s desire to diversify Nigeria’s  economy, by giving attention to developing other abundant natural resources , it hitherto abandoned, more especially, the agricultural potential that once contributed to the GDP of the nation’s economy before the advent of the oil boom, has continued to elicit actions from various quarters.

Many stakeholders who understand the importance of agriculture and  believe that it’s potentials could be exploited to resuscitate   the economy are already preferring possible solutions.

With a commitment on using agriculture to provide the needed succour to a struggling economy, there is a brainstorming among relevant stakeholders, meant to offer an effective radar that could help the country to retrace it’s ways to agricultural prosperity.

One of such stakeholders and an expert in the  agriculture sector, Dr. Samson Adeola Odedina, who is also the Provost, Federal College of Agriculture,(FECA) Akure, believes that, for Nigeria to be on the same page with other countries that are already reaping the benefits of a developed agriculture; adequate attention must  be given to agriculture  value chain training.

He disclosed this during a stakeholders’ meeting of the Swiss Government supported “Capacity Building for Agricultural Education in Nigeria”( CBAEN), recently held in Abuja.

He also said that, as part of effort to reduce illegal migration of youths to Switzerland, Federal College of Agriculture Akure is currently partnering with the Migration Office, Switzerland and Bern University of Applied Science (HAFL) to incorporate agriculture value chain studies into the curriculum of Nigeria University and Colleges of agriculture.

Odedina noted that the Capacity Building for Agricultural Education in Nigeria(CBAEN) project, being supported by the Swiss Government is aimed at helping Nigerians by training them on agro-enterprising.

The target of the project, is said to be the institutions of agriculture in Nigeria that is providing training on agricultural development. It is expected that the project will help to provide agriculture value chain training to the students of these institutions.

The project which New Telegraph learnt had started with its pilot phase between 2012 and 2013, has its second phase going on at the Federal College of Agriculture Akure and Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute, Ilorin.

Other institutions in Nigeria that are also benefiting from the project, are the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Federal College of Agriculture Ishiagu and Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi.

The project was also said to have produced several Master trainers in the area of agriculture value chain development and these trainers are expected to train other people along the same line.

Dr. Femi Oladoni, the Acting Executive Director, Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute, Ilorin, one the project management team member, also underscore the importance of value chain training in agriculture development.

He said that if the youths are given adequate practical and sustainable trainings on agriculture, the illegal migration in search of jobs outside the country will be reduced.

He stressed on the need to imbibe the inspirations derived from the involvement of Swiss government in the project.

According to him, the youths can be motivated to develop agriculture when conducive atmosphere is created for them.

The Provost of FECA, Dr Odedina, said the the project in the last two years has produced about 500 students who are pioneers and are already making money with the benefits of the value chain training.

On how to sustain the benefits of the project and ensure more progress, the Provost said that FECA parades a wealth of training resources needed for practical training in agribusiness and has successfully trained and empowered 7,500 categories of entrepreneurs, including youths on profitable agribusiness.

The project was also said to have exposed the students to various value chain opportunities of production, processing, value addition, marketing and consumption which will enable them to be self-reliant and self-sustainable entrepreneurs.