Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The federal government has made it mandatory for under graduate students of the Federal Universities of Agriculture, to own farms of their own before they can graduate from the schools.
The clause was issued last night by Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, when the Governing Councils of the universities of agriculture paid him a courtesy visit.
Ogbeh said under the new dispensation, every undergraduate must now own a farm on campus from 200 level.
The minister said graduation for the students of the universities of agriculture would be based 60 per cent on practice and 40 per cent theory.
â€œEvery undergraduate must- and I repeat- must own a farm on campus from 200 level. We are training high level young farmers who, even before graduating, should have started earning a living. We should be training graduates who should be going straight into production, with credit support from their alma-mata, produce chicken, eggs, goats, milk, set up meat laboratories, bake bread and above all produce and sell large quantities of high quality hybrid seeds,â€ Ogbeh said.
He said farmers were in desperate need of these services and more, adding the institutions would make huge profits from innovative agricultural practice.
Ogbeh described the return of the three universities of agriculture to ministry as a rational, just and timely action, necessitated by the new economic realities to ensure that our institutions are better focused and more efficiently and economically managed.
â€œThe three federal universities of agriculture,â€ he noted, â€œwere established to advance the cause of agricultural transformation and modernisation in Nigeria for the development of core competencies in agricultural education, research and training, amongst others. It is, therefore, expected that the admission policy of these universities will largely be reflective of this overarching goal. Our submission is that, in the long run, the universities will be better served if they focus on their core areas of business rather than on the subsidiaries.â€
He expressed the consciousness of government on the fears and anxieties of teachers and the students already enrolled for the subsidiary social sciences programmes aside from core agricultural coursework.
Accordingly, he said: â€œWe will not be cancelling them immediately. The task before you is to phase them out gradually.â€
He, however, called on the institutions not to overlook the opportunities to earn huge revenues from agricultural research, seed and seedling development, extension work, soil mapping and even production of food on campus.
â€œYou have huge parcels of land averaging 10,000 ha each. I enjoin you to put them to use. Raise plantations as it is done in Abeokuta and Umudike already. Scale- up the plantations over time and earn income. Be the food basket of your respective host communities.â€
He disclosed that Ministry of Agriculture had already set in motion a machinery to remodel the three universities into centres of excellence of global reckoning by ensuring that the institutional structures already enshrined in the Federal Universities of Agriculture Act cap F22 CFN 2010 for their effective management are put in place without delay.