Towards the realisation of the mandate of the Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Development and Sustainable Environment (CEADESE) of the University, the Centre has embarked on aggressive sustainability drive by establishing its own Demonstration and Experimental Farm. This farm is to increase the capacity of students to embark on impactful research and to boost food production. According to the Director of CEADESE, Prof. Olukayode Akinyemi, the achievement is coming as the last phase of the World Bank-sponsored project with almost all the farm activities being mechanised.
He said the farm project is to serve for teaching and research purposes, most especially for CEADESE students and faculty. He listed the objectives of the demonstration and experimental farm to include: to increase the production of crops in FUNAAB community and its environs; to generate income for CEADESE; and to train M.AgSE and PhD.AgSE students on farm operations, mechanisation, equipment handling, processing, and marketing of produce.
Others are to develop agri-preneural skills in students through active farm practicals; and to establish meteorological and hydrological stations for proper monitoring of environmental conditions for optimum crop development and production. The project commenced last June during the outbreak of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and national lockdown that successfully led to the planting of 8.24 hectares of land using scientific and mechanised approaches. Drone was equally used to mark out the perimeter, boundary and to demarcate the plots, the Director said.
According to Prof. Akinyemi, activities carried out so far included land clearing, ploughing, harrowing, planting as well as the application of fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide using implements such as slasher, plough, grain planter, cassava stem planter, and insecticide-pesticide applicator, respectively. In addition, CEADESE has utilised its 75HP tractor, plough, harrow, trailer and ridger for the establishment of the farm. Contour bonds were already constructed to prevent soil erosion and to ensure that crops were planted in alignment to the contour bonds.
The Directorate of University Farms (DUFARMS) also played key roles in achieving CEADESE success story by providing a tractor operator and the hiring out of grain-planter and cassava stem planter to support the Centre. With this development, 3.24 hectares of maize crop, two hectares of soybeans and mucuna, and three hectares of cassava were planted through mechanised farming. During the process of establishing the farm, the Centre also acquired a grain planter, rotary slasher, and constructed a farm shed. Storage tanks and galvanised pipes and scaffolding stands have also been acquired for water use on the farm during the dry season. The Centre is working towards attaining its medium goal of expanding the farmland for students’ research and long term goal of establishing the meteorological and hydrological station.