Chidimma UCHEGBU, Abuja
The Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Arc. Sonny Echono has tasked Vice Chancellors of Universities across the country on the development of agriculture as a tool in addressing unemployment in Nigeria.
Echono stated this in Abuja on Wednesday, during a roundtable with vice chancellors on the implementation of Agricultural Research and Innovation Fellowship for Africa (ARIFA) in Nigeria with the them, ‘building the post-vicosa symposium action plan.”
The TETFund boss enjoined the vice chancellors to put more energy for actualisation of agriculture transformation while urging them to operationalize the centres of excellence as soon as as possible.
He said, “My charge to you is t make this a personal mission because I’m very confident that if will get it right in agriculture in this country half of our problems will be solved because it is the easiest means of creating jobs.
“Most of those who are being recruited into banditry, who are being recruited into the insurgency, if they are able to work on the land they will perhaps prefer to do that.
“And if we can find modern ways of doing things that will significantly improve revenue because as the yield increase, of course revenues increases and it makes it more attractive.
“As we adopt new technology, develop our mechanization and irrigation we will found opportunities through commercial agriculture and we will be able to absorb the graduates that will produce because most of the issue if you notice, more than 60 percent of those who graduate with agriculture go on to do other things with their lives because we don’t have commercial farming that can absorb this workforce we produced.
“But as we develop the sector, then the demand for personnel in that sector will increase and we will be in position to also improve our revenue.
“There are countries that depends solely on agriculture and they are doing very well and it is the one resource that God has blessed us.
“I enjoin you to take this message and take this issue very seriously. There may be few mistakes along the line but we should correct ourselves. We should operationalize the centers of excellence as quickly as we can,” the ES added.
He added that Nigeria can learn a lot from Brazil through partnership given their track record in the area of agriculture, saying that everything is build through national food security and it is responsibility of all of us to ensure that happens.
Also speaking, the executive secretary of Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo said the workshop is to have an internationalization process, saying that the outcomes from the meeting will feed into Post-Viçosa Sympo Action Plan, holding at University of Lagos from14th – 16th July.
He said the meeting will focus on priority areas of demand for increased capacity in STEM, establishment of innovation platforms, among others.