FG mobilises three Agric varsities to capture UK’s £30bn produce imports
Having secured the British government’s directive to capture the £30 billion United Kingdom’s food and produce imports on yearly basis, the Nigeria Government has moved to unbundle and unlock various economic opportunities inherent in the agricultural sector of Nigerian economy.
It has mapped a medium and long term strategies on agriculture with a priority on the three Universities of Agriculture located in Abeokuta, Ogun state; Makurdi in Benue state and Umudike in Abia state with a view to building seeds faculties, constructing dams for irrigation, building mills and farms estates where students will be awarded 60% academic scores on practicals and 40% on theories as main perquisites for graduations.
Also, Federal Government is mobilising development banks like Bank of Industry and Agriculture to roll out schemes on single-digit interest credit facilities for young graduates in addition to its plan to subsidise produce processing machinery by 60%, saying that 200 rice mills had been advertised and will be constructed across the states of the federation for rice processing.
Speaking on Thursday in Abeokuta at the Convocation Lecture held at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development noted that Nigeria was asked by the British Council to take the opportunities offered by UK’s £30 billion worth of food and produce imports for which Nigeria is supplying barely £15 million annually.
The Minister, who spoke on the theme, “Food and the Future” said the country is making frantic moves to diversify her economy as a matter of urgency and priority, and tilting towards unveiling massive strategies on agriculture which are centred on youths and mechanized and modern farming and processing with appreciable level of budegtary allocation that fasten policy on agriculture value chain development.
While emphasizing that the youths must be at the centre stage of agriculture that the country is embarking on, the Minister said that Federal Government had re-established the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) that facilitates land clearing across the country at a no or subsidized cost saying “this university along with the two others, can do a great deal to feed Nigeria.”
He said,”I was came back from London on Tuesday and when I was there I spoke with British Council. There, I was made to understand that Britain spends £30 billion on food and produce imports annually which Nigeria only accounts for £15 million. With this, we can do more, I am told.
“When I first came here, I have discussed with the Governing Council, we shall help build dam on this campus for irrigation. We shall help develop a seed faculty. I also told them as well that we shall bring you mini tractors which we have just developed.
“I have also told them that you should be scored 60% on practicals and 40% on theory. If you do not pass practicals on agriculture you won’t graduate. We’re not looking for theoreticians in agriculture. For produce processing, we have just advertised 200 rice mills. We also have a programme in our Ministry now where we sell machines to farmers at 60% discount.”
Earlier, Ololade Enikuomehin, Acting Vice-Chancellor of FUNAAB had assured the Federal Government of Universities of Agriculture’s support towards frantic moves to unlock opportunities inherent in agriculture with a view to training all-season and ever competent students that subscribe to government’s initiative on agriculture to guarantee food security and wealth creation.
RAZAQ AYINLA, Abeokuta
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