Umunze College Educates Farmers on Hygienic Food Processing, Modern Farming

The Federal College of Education (Technical) staff recently took education to the streets to tutor the host community members on hygienic food production and modern farming techniques. 

The one-day sensitization programme was held for women farmers in the Ezira Community in Orumba South LGA, Anambra, by the Department of Agriculture in collaboration with the Anambra State Agricultural Development Programme (ADP). 

The Provost, Prof. Theresa Okoli, who flagged off the training, expressed optimism that the extension programme would equip the participants with relevant knowledge for hygienic food processing and reduce the incidence of high mortality from consumption of poisonous food in rural communities. 

She said the exercise was part of the college’s corporate social responsibility to the host community and aimed to empower them with practical knowledge of modern farming to boost food production and address food insecurity threatening the country.  

Okoli, a professor of Vocational Agricultural Education, described farming as the main source of livelihood for families in rural areas and urged agrarian communities to take advantage of this year’s farming season to boost their farming activities. She informed the community of the benefits of cassava production, saying that poverty and unemployment would be reduced drastically if farmers adopted modern farming techniques for higher crop yield. 

The provost noted that the exercise targeted women farmers in the rural community to sharpen their skills and educate them on new farming methods. 

She commended the Agricultural Department for the innovative idea, observing that the programme would educate the women in healthy garri processing, organic farming, the use of improved varieties of crops, pest control, and best storage practices, among other things. 

Okoli bemoaned society’s increasing death rate and warned against eating contaminated food or cassava high in cyanide. She identified fermentation, drying, and cooking as some of the processes of removing harmful substances from garri. She noted with dismay that some people cook and eat their local ‘abacha’ delicacy the same day it was processed without the necessary fermentation. 

She advised participants to spread the knowledge gained from the programme to local farmers to improve the life expectancy among rural dwellers. 

The Dean of the School of Agriculture and Home Economics, Dr. M.C Nwike, said the programme was meant to educate rural farmers on modern ways of food processing to enhance farm production and healthy living of the final consumers. 

He said the programme targeted farmers residing in and around the host community of Umunze and its environs to combat some of the cancerous diseases caused by eating unprocessed and non-fermented cassava. 

Nwike defined the exercise’s mandate as teaching and learning, research, and agricultural extension. He said the students, with the help of staff used for the training exercise, were mandated to go into rural communities and impart the knowledge they acquired. 

According to him, every department student was required to perform such community service as a practical agricultural extension, which is supposed to be a criterion for graduation. 

Nwike said that the Agric Department was able to reach the farmers with the help of ADP, which has direct contact with farmers in rural areas. He applauded ADP, Anambra State, for its efforts and cooperation in making the programme successful. 

Speaking on ‘steps in the production of high-quality garri’ and ‘dangers in cooking foi foi with polythene material, Oscar Ezulike Victor, a student of the department, said polythene, which some foi foi sellers use to wrap foi foi while cooking is made from petroleum waste, and it contains cyanide poison which can cause cancer, kidney failure, bad vision and some other deadly diseases.

He advised women to return to the olden days of cooking and fermenting cassava. According to him, it is unhealthy and dangerous to cook foi with polythene material. 

As part of the sensitisation programme, Dr Stella Ofodile, the head of the Agric Department, engaged participants in an interactive session. She noted the different varieties and species of cassava planted in the area and the challenges associated with cassava farming.

She also informed them about the programmes run in the college and an available scholarship programme for students in the Department of Agric. 

In her presentation, Ijeoma Ejeanobi, a staff of the department with an interest in organic agriculture, discussed 

the health benefits of using organic agriculture in food processing instead of chemicals. 

Responding on behalf of other participants, the Home women leader in Ezira, Mrs. Ogonna Nwafor, thanked the college for bringing the educative programme to the community. She advised her fellow women to adhere to the teachings and instructions for healthy living. She further pleaded that the programme should be organised regularly for greater impact.

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