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Make Agriculture Full Business Venture, Says CEADESE Director

For agriculture to become profitable and attractive, farmers have been urged to look beyond subsistence farming and embrace agriculture as a full business. This was the submission of the Director, Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Development and Sustainable Environment (CEADESE) of the University, Professor Okanlawon Onagbesan, at the FADAMA Graduate Unemployment Youths Scheme (FADAMA GUYS) training programme, held recently in the University. According to the Director, who was represented at the training programme by Professor Carolyn Afolami, of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Farm Management, College of Agricultural Management and Rural Development (COLAMRUD), the relevance of agriculture to the sustenance of the nation can no longer be ignored, hence, the need for adequate training of graduates, who are interested in agriculture.

Commending the Federal Government and the World Bank, under the FADAMA III Project initiative, which aims at engaging about 6,000 youths in agricultural enterprises and sustainability, by increasing the incomes of FADAMA users, the Director stated that on the part of the University, participants would be given an all-inclusive training, which would equip them with diversified approaches of mixed-cropping, to always enable them have cash at hand. He added that special attention would be paid to agricultural mechanisation, crop production with special focus on leafy and fruity vegetables, cassava, yam, cereal production, poultry production and fish farming.

A Professor of Food Engineering in the Department of Bioresources Engineering, College of Engineering (COLENG) in the University, Professor Babatunde Adewumi, disclosed that agriculture was an integrated system that was interwoven and cannot be done in isolation. He admonished participants to utilise the opportunity given to them to the best of their ability, saying that "acquire knowledge first and money will run after you". Professor Adewumi, who said participants should count themselves lucky because they would be trained by some of the best hands in the world, disclosed that the University had been recognised as a global centre of excellence in agriculture.

The FADAMA State Project Co-ordinator, Mr. Olufemi Akinsola, disclosed that the objective of the project was to increase the incomes of users of rural land and water resources on a sustainable basis. The State Co-ordinator, who was represented by the Finance and Livelihood Activities Officer, Mrs. Solape Awe, stated that the workshop was holding simultaneously in four different locations in Ogun state, adding that the project believed in the common saying that, ‘if you don’t train them, don’t blame them’. He added that most people that had gone into agriculture failed because they did not know anything about farming. "That is why these two weeks have been set aside for intensive training. This is the very first set. If this is done well, progress would be recorded and others would benefit from it, but if not, it means the programme was not worth it and the Federal Government would not want to continue with it. The role you play would determine if the Federal Government, in collaboration with the World Bank, would go ahead to implement the programme for others", he added.

Shedding light on the next step after the training, the State Co-ordinator said that the enterprise of a minimum of 200 youths in each state would be sponsored. He further disclosed that the sponsorship was not necessarily used to be monetary, but would be in the form of training, support and seed supply. Mr. Akinsola stated that selected participants applied online, screened, were called for interviews and eventually short-listed for the training. Speaking earlier, the University's Co-ordinator of the FADAMA GUYS programme, Dr. Adeboye Fafiolu, of the Department of Animal Nutrition, College of Animal Science and Livestock Production (COLANIM), assured participants that arrangements had been put in place, to ensure that the programme was a huge success while the objectives of FUNAAB and FADAMA were realised.