In a special programme organized by the Faculty of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology (FAAT), the guest lecturer, Dr.S.E.Okosun (of Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma) spoke extensively on the theme: “Agriculture: The Neglected Child in Nigeria”.
The speaker who identified agriculture as the most important sector in the Nigerian economy, lamented the neglect the sector has suffered over the years. He said agriculture goes beyond farming: growing of crops and rearing cattle etc, rather, it is a profession of other diverse course. According to him, it requires marketing, creativity, favourable government policies and networking in order to compete with the international communities.
Decrying how successive administrations have paid lip service to a sector which used to account for 60% of the Nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), and the world’s 5th largest producer of fresh fruits, the guest lecturer said, today the Nation is dependent largely on importation to the neglect of agriculture, Dr. Okosun stated ironically that Nigeria currently doubles as the largest rice producer in West Africa sub-region, and the biggest importer of rice after China.
He therefore called on the government to take a clue from China by looking inwards and investing in the Nation’s pride by way of partnership, industrial/ technological development, subsidy and funding. Lamenting the huge waste in the Nations agricultural produce, Dr. Okosun said that Nigeria is blessed with arabic gum in the North, cocoa in the West, rubber in the Delta and palm produce in the East,
However, he urged the students, particularly the females to embrace agriculture. He advised them to be creative in the agro business and be part of the transformation process. In his words, “No farmers, no nation, great farmers, great nation”. The guest lecture also called on all to buy Nigeria, save the naira, stop the mutilation and save the naira through exportation.
Earlier, the Dean of the Faculty, Prof. Molindo noted that though agriculture was neglected in the past, Benson Idahosa University Faculty of Agriculture will make agriculture attractive again, while charging the students not to feel inferior.
Meanwhile, the Vice Chancellor, represented by the Dean of Post Graduate School, Prof Sanni enjoined the students to re-engineer themselves by improving on the society after attaining their training in Benson Idahosa University. On his part, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Prof. Sam Guobadia, while congratulating the Faculty, urged the students to change the way agriculture is done by involving in intensive research. He enjoined them to develop their expertise and perfect their skills in production and processing in order to move the Nation forward, adding that the richest people on earth are farmers.
Also present where other Management staff members and project team who were in company of the Deputy Vice Chancellor on a site inspection of the ongoing construction work of the Faculty of Engineering, Okha Campus, and whose visit coincided with the Agric. Faculty Week.