The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, has assured lecturers and students engaged in non-agricultural studies in the three universities of agriculture that their careers will not be jeopardised.
He gave this assurance in Abuja while receiving the members of the governing councils of federal universities of agriculture.
According to him, the return of the three universities of agriculture to the Agric Ministry is … a rational, just and timely action, necessitated by the new economic realities we are in, to ensure that our institutions are better focused and more efficiently and economically managed.
The three affected universities are: the Federal University of Agriculture Umudike in Abia State, Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi, and the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta.
The three federal universities of agriculture,” he noted, “were established to advance the cause of agricultural transformation and modernisation in Nigeria for the development of core competencies in agricultural education, research and training, amongst others.
Prior to this, the universities have been under the supervisory role of the National Universities Commission (NUC), whereas the Act establishing them had originally aligned them with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, with a focus of boosting researches and innovation.
It is, therefore, expected that the admission policy of these universities will largely be reflective of this overarching goal.
The minister explained that in the long run, the universities will be better served if they focus on their core areas of business rather than on the subsidiaries.”
He urged the institutions of agricultural education and research to look for where to earn huge revenues from agricultural research, seed and seedling development, extension work, soil mapping and even production of food on campuses.
He declared that going forward the universities should give greater priority to courses with agriculture-related content stressing that the main courses must be agriculture, agronomy, botany, animal husbandry, forestry, fishery, plant entomology, breeding, cattle breed improvement, agric engineering and veterinary medicine amongst others.
He advised the institutions to concentrate on training graduates who should be going straight into production, with credit support from their alma-mater, noting that they should be able to produce chicken, eggs, goats, milk, set up meat laboratories, bake bread and above all produce and sell large quantities of high quality hybrid seeds.
Asserting that farmers are in desperate need of these services and more., Ogbeh reiterated that they will make huge profits from innovative agricultural practice.
He however enjoined them to address agricultural productivity by using , the huge parcels of land and raising plantations .
The Minister cited the way it is done in Abeokuta and Umudike .
According to the minister –
- there may be an immediate reaction to the innovations we are bringing to bear on campuses.
- For example, the institutions may experience a sharp drop in admission.
- Agriculture is a profitable business to those who choose the path of patience and endurance. They will come running once they see the prosperity and fulfillment in those who dare to try.
- There will be “an important and strategic modification” to the existing faculties of medicine.
- The faculties will now be called Colleges of Nutrition and Medical Sciences.
- If attention is paid to the increasing awareness on the importance of nutrition, we may not only be drastically reducing our national health bill, but also raising the bar of our currently low life expectancy average.
- The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has already set in motion a machinery to remodel the three universities under our joint care with a view to transforming them into centres of excellence of global reckoning.
- In this connection, we shall ensure that the institutional structures already enshrined in the Federal Universities of Agriculture Act cap F22 CFN 2010 for their effective management are put in place without delay.