The practice of farming in the 21st Century has been described as a serious business that needs financial support, mechanised aid and requires the use of manpower under a comfortable atmosphere so as to thrive. This submission was made by Professor Kayode Adewumi, a Professor of Soil and Water Engineering and the Dean, College of Engineering (COLENG) of the University. Professor Adewumi said that presently, people were no longer interested in farming because nobody wants to bend their back tiling and clearing the soil. According to him, majority of people that have the money for farming would prefer to go into fishery, piggery and poultry farming which require less energy to carry out.
According to him, “Old farmers that we have today barely farm to sustain their families, people are not comfortable with the drudgery in the physical production of crops”. Based on this, he called on the government to open up large hectares of land in every geo-political zone and practice mechanised farming. This arrangement should be carried out in every local government, with required equipment, tractors, combine harvester among others and every year, monitor what every local government is producing. He charged the government, its agricultural agencies and individual farmers to be engaged and be committed to crop farming in order to get out of the problem of unforeseen poverty in the future.
While making reference to FUNAAB, he said the University had got everything to thrive on and be in the fore-front of crop production that should be able to feed Abeokuta and beyond, if money was made available to it. Sharing his research works and its benefit to the environment, Professor Adewumi said he had worked on the Drip Irrigation Project, a 3-year and N36 million project, funded by the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), which is meant to conserve water for crop production.
He also revealed that under his supervision, irrigation software had been written in the name of FUNAAB, and is waiting to be patented such that any one that wishes to write or use it will get University’s permission. The Dean also said that a lot of research work had been done on FUNAAB soil, where it was discovered that the University soil is about 87 per cent sand, which led him and his team to carry out soil conservation in order to still keep it in good shape.
“We are hoping for FUNAAB dam, and this has led us to write proposals to the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Water Resources for the establishment of a dam. If we have a dam, it will take care of irrigation and FUNAAB will be able to crop throughout the year, researches will thrive, students will benefit and the surrounding communities will be making booking ahead for farm produce with the University”, he said. In addition, he noted that building a dam is not a small project, saying a group of consultants had come to carry out survey on where to site the dam, while the Ogun-Oshun River Basin Development Authority (OORBDA) would assist in presenting the project on behalf of the University.
Professor Adewumi said the University had made efforts within its powers to solving food problems. This, he said, informed Management’s decision in sponsoring delegates to the Republic of Benin to understudy a one-man farm that had become a source of tourist attraction to many, who often visited the country. The outcome of that visit, according to him, was that it transformed the Directorate of University Farms (DUFARMS) into a big office in FUNAAB. On returning, he said proposals were written and designs were made on how to extend more on what they saw, but the University was limited by funds. “If we had been able to execute the plan, the University would have been producing at larger quantities and supplying, but the little we could do is what we see in DUFARMS now”, he stated.
As a soil and water expert with penchant for irrigation for sustained cropping, he said the real farmers were those who engage in crop farming. He described the Nigeria land as a blessed one where irrigation can be practiced in any part of the country, drawing examples from the nation of Israel; Professor Adewumi said irrigation was their (Israelis) main source of livelihood, which they practiced successfully considering their type of land. He went further r to stress that if irrigation was to be fully practiced in Nigeria, the divers nature of the country should be considered, as much money will be spent in the Southern part of the country for clearing before irrigation can be carried out unlike the North where less will be spent, considering the nature of the land.
As a way of helping the country to get out of food crisis in the nearest future, Professor Adewumi said the government should make agriculture its priority. According to him, “If agriculture is the priority of the leaders, something meaningful will be done. Everything depends on the individual that is there, to make it work at the end of the day”. He also frowned at what he described as the over-dependence on government for everything as it is obtainable in the country, noting that “The orientation they gave us in the country is that they have made us to be living on government”. Finally, he charged the government to empower the teeming youths to go into agriculture by providing the necessary mechanisation to work with.