Given the current economic realities and the need to diversify the nation’s economy, provide job for Nigeria’s teeming population and attain sufficiency in food production, the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor OyeIbidapo-Obe has advised governments to see agriculture as the next area to shore up the economy.
The university don who was the chairman at a recently held International Conference on Agriculture by the Centre for Values in Leadership in Lagos, told THISDAY that the integration of agriculture into the country’s tertiary education curriculum should be a major transformation the sector should experience.
“That is our next area to look at to shore up our economy and it is so important. It has become a major area of our transformation within the education sector. One of the things we must do is to ensure that higher institutions integrate agriculture in their curriculum.”
Suggesting some of the practical ways to implement the integration, he said schools should consider introducing agriculture as a course in general studies. “In fact it is so important that we should even be looking at a General African Study. It is no point having these knowledge and then you can’t translate it to something.
“It must be incorporated into the general studies in a more practical way. Rather than spending our time teaching them English Language and computer science, these are skills they can pick up on their own.”
Ibidapo-Obe stressed the need for the government and educational institutions in the country to revive agriculture and position it as a sector with huge potential for entrepreneurship, food sufficiency and economic recovery.
“What has happened in the past is that the returns on agriculture are so poor that we don’t want to do it. To encourage youths to embrace agriculture, we need to revisit the issue of commodity boards; a board that will guarantee the sale of products from agric.
“Let us ensure that everybody does agriculture; let us make sure that every weekend people go to their farms. That is the way it should be, that is how it was done during our time and it worked.”
Stating that funding should not be an impediment in the implementation process, he said what institutions need most is the land. According to him, if properly implemented, other things will fall into shape. “If it is done properly, once the land is there and then the demarcation, all the other things can be done.
“We are talking of just semi-big gardens. We are not talking about big agricultural farms to ensure that every student has a farm as we did in primary and secondary schools. I remember in my secondary school, one of the things that excited me most was for us to plant maize.”