The Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Prof. A. G. Daramola, said poor performance of the agriculture sector led to inability to reach sustainable economic development in Nigeria.
Prof. Daramola made this submission last Wednesday (June 25, 2014) in his keynote address at the 58th Annual General Meeting of the Association of Deans of Agriculture in Nigerian Universities (ADAN), held at the University of Ilorin.
The FUTA Vice-Chancellor, who was represented on the occasion by Prof. A. Ojo, suggested that Nigeria must pay serious attention to solving the problems and constraints of the agriculture sector if she really aspires to join the ranks of developed economies. He noted that one of the recipes for agricultural development is the inculcation of entrepreneurial development in the students.
Speaking on the conference theme, “Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Advancing Agriculture in Nigeria”, the Keynote Speaker observed that the agricultural sector is still the leading contributor to the GDP even though its share of the GDP has been declining over the years.
Prof. Daramola lamented that the agricultural sector has been releasing labour at a higher rate to the unemployment market, adding that on the foreign exchange sub-sector, the Nigeria’s agricultural sector performance has been disappointing.
He said, “The rate of growth of Nigeria’s food production has been low. Nigerian industries are folding up and there is abundant evidence to show that the existing ones are increasingly dependent on import. The slow rate of growth and modernisation in the agricultural sector has been an impediment to the growth of the agricultural sector market for the products of the industrial sector in Nigeria”.
The FUTA VC submitted that entrepreneurship is a key factor for the survival of small scale farming in an ever changing and increasingly complex global economy, stating that agro entrepreneurship can be used as best medicine for the development of agriculture.
“It is therefore on this premise that the teaching and training of students in agricultural programmes in our universities should be geared towards entrepreneurship development so as to solve all the problems confronting agricultural development”, Prof. Daramola opined.
According to the Keynote Speaker, agro entrepreneurship training would solve the problems of unemployment for rural youth, control migration from rural to urban areas, increase national income, support industrial development in rural areas and reduce the pressure on urban cities and so on.
Earlier in his address, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) Chairman, Dr. Ayokunle Afolabi Toye, said that the key concepts in the theme have aroused interest for a while saying that participants would greatly learn from the lecture and plenary lectures.
Dr. Toye said that the organisers have deemed it fit to honour a rare set of prominent Nigerians, whom he noted have applied mastery in entrepreneurship and innovation to stand out in their contribution to the advancement of agriculture in the country.
A highpoint of the programme was the presentation of award to five distinguished personalities who have made great contribution to agricultural development in the country. The recipients were the Governor of Kwara State, Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed; the Olofa of Offa, Oba Muftau Mohammed Oloyede Gbadamosi; the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali; Vice-Admiral Samuel Afolayan, and Mr. Ezekiel Olabode Adetoyi.
In his acceptance speech, the Kwara State Governor, Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed, said the award imposed on him greater responsibility to advance the growth of agriculture in the state and in Nigeria.
Speaking through the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor, Hon. C. T. Ayeni, Dr. Ahmed tasked the lecturers to continue to nurture young people with training and mindset necessary for successful agribusiness entrepreneurship, economic prosperity and food security.
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“I stand before you today with a heart full of gratitude and a mind keenly aware of what needs to be done to deepen agribusiness as the pivot of our country’s prosperity”, the governor said.