Do not admit students without farming interest – Ogbeh
As the nation is working towards diversifying its economy from petroleum to agriculture, the federal government on Tuesday, directed all universities of agriculture not to admit students who do not have interest in becoming farmers.
The federal government also directed the institutions to remove from its curricula all the courses that are not relevant to agriculture, adding that the universities will act as a tool in agricultural development.
Speaking during a meeting with Chairmen of Council and Vice Chancellors of Federal Universities of Agriculture, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh said there was desperate need to train a new generation of young and educated farmers to feed Nigeria in the coming years.
He said the Universities of Agriculture have roles to play in the accomplishment of the national objective to become self sufficient in food production as the Nigerian population will be heading to 450 million by 2050.
Addressing the Vice Chancellors, Ogbeh said “we are, therefore, delighted to welcome you back to your natural and loving home- a place specifically prepared for you to grow, flourish, and be strong and vibrant again.
“We are determined to offer you all the necessary support for your transformation from you normal state of inactivity into a healthier realm of self-discovery and self-actualization.
“Accordingly, there is a desperate need to train and develop a new generation of farmers-young, educated, enthusiastic, passionate and ambitious, to feed the nation in the coming years.
“Undoubtedly, our universities of agriculture have a great role to play in this regard, hence the need to enlist them for the accomplishment of this compelling strategic national imperative. You must lead from the front”.
He therefore said “henceforth, students not interested in becoming farmers should be made to seek admission elsewhere. Each undergraduate must own a farm on campus, and 60 per cent of his/her cumulative score should be based on practical farming. You have to change course and veer clear of non-agricultural courses in your curricula”.
“You can no longer procrastinate, especially given that there is a new awareness in the country that agriculture is a profitable business which is encouraging our youths to respond to our persistent call to return to agriculture.
“A network of vibrant youth farmers is our universities may just be the necessary tonic that will spur the agricultural revolution in Nigeria through massive youth engagement and mobilization.
“In order to kick-start the institutional renewal process of these institutions under your respective leadership, therefore, you, as leaders of these universities, must begin to take innovative steps from multiple fronts.
In his remarks, the Chairman House Committee on Agriculture Mohammed Monguno said no amendment is needed to return the universities under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture.
According to him “from the national assembly perspective, this universities migrated to the ministry of education through executive fiat without necessarily amending the existing law, there is no need for an amendment from the legislature for them to come back to the ministry of agriculture, the directive have been given by Mr President.
“There is still a lacuna that needs to be filled and that is there is need either through an executive bill or a bill to be sponsored by the House Committee on Agriculture and Senate Committee on Agriculture for the formation of National Agriculture Universities commission that will be charged with the responsibilities of regulating the universities of agriculture”.