Prime Solution To Nigerian Food Export Rejection Problems
Federal College of Agriculture (FCA), Moor Plantation, Ibadan, has suggested ways foods exported from Nigeria can be accpetable in Europe and America.
The College, pointed out that rejection of food exports in Europe and America can be tackled with adequate awareness and adoption of technologies already developed by colleges and institutes of agriculture in the country.
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Such technologies include plant-based pesticides, inert atmosphere silos, hermetic drums for grain storage without chemicals and use of other health-friendly preservatives.
Provost of the college, Dr. (Mrs.) Elizabeth Augustus, attributed such rejection of food exports to residue of agro-chemicals in crops such as beans, and attempts to prevent pest infestations in storage by people who are not trained in such practices.
She made the submissions while debunking the insinuation that exports were rejected because colleges and institutes of agriculture have not performed creditabley well, published by an online news platform and tagged ‘100 Years of Agric Colleges, yet substandard produce still persist.’
The publication had submitted that the existence of these colleges should be queried due to “rampant produce rejection” and thus exclusively attributed the shortcoming to some colleges of agriculture, especially in Ibadan and Zamaru, Zaria.
Dr Augustus refuted: “We do not only find this extremely myopic but also ill-informed. Considering the level of priority placed on education in the country and enormous challenges facing the agricultural sector, FCA, Ibadan has performed (and still performing) excellently well in its mandate at training middle-level agricultural manpower.”
She said: “We agree so many things require restructuring, but improving the factors affecting agricultural mechanisation and post-harvest storage/processing is a collective responsibility of the government (federal, state and local), the agricultural research institutes, faculties of agriculture at all levels of tertiary institutions (inclusive of FCAs) and the urgently needed intervention of the lawmakers.”
As much as FCAs should be better equipped for optimum service delivery, she added, placing the defects in agricultural development in Nigeria solely at the doorstep of three colleges of agriculture is an unfair assessment.
“We actually train the students as best as we can, but they still require an encouraging and productive atmosphere to execute their expertise towards national development,” Dr Augustus added.
She reiterated that the existence of colleges of agriculture in Moor plantation, Ibadan and Samaru, Zaria actually called for celebration considering the number of graduates they have chunked out over the period.
The provost said: “The wastages or losses recorded yearly on food production running to billions of naira is a pure reflection of unprofessional agricultural practices by untrained individuals in the farming and other value chain units of the sector.
“We are calling the attention of the government at all levels to how these colleges should be exploited to capacity to enhance the productivity of the sector with optimised revenue generations and employment creation, especially by regular training for actors in the food chain on good agricultural practices, how to increase yield per hectare and how to store food without contamination or chemical residues.”
She reemphasised that since inception, the college had always been involved in, and contributed to producing well trained agricultural manpower in extension services; offering short courses and executing training programmes targeted at boosting the competencies of Nigeria’s agricultural personnel.
She added that almost every year, during their National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), graduates from the college often develop agricultural machines for local governments in their place of service and they receive NYSC awards.
The college constructed two soybean threshers for Ghana Crop Research Institute in 1994; soybean threshers for Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, which was distributed to Kwara, Niger, Kaduna, Plateau and Benue Agricultural Development Programmes (ADPs); as well as locust bean dehuller for the Ministry of Women Affairs, Oyo State, she added.
“Some of our production capacities include 200 acres of land for crop production. We produce rabbits, cane rats and snails; and we have college abattoir for the processing of beef and other meat products. The college is known to* produce fresh eggs, fish, and beef at very affordable rates. We have 800-layer bird-capacity, 2000-broiler pens, and we have a piggery pen of 200-250 piglets, growers and breeders. We have a garri-processing unit, 1.5 hectares of maize/cassava intercrop, as well as an oil palm production facility, just to mention a few,” she said, all to facilitate practical training for students of the college and fire their imagination for agricultural innovations.
Other achievements of her administration, the provost explained, include empowerment of 400 youth and women through vocational training in different agricultural enterprises, construction of 68-metre road and 140-metre drainage.
She concluded that “Deliberate introduction of science to agricultural practice is expected to limit drudgery, optimise production and revitalise the agricultural sector. As much as we may agree that we are not where we should be in terms of scientific/innovative agricultural practices, we will equally admit that we are certainly not where we used to be.”
With the intervention of colleges of agriculture like FCA Ibadan, farm inputs and equipment have been designed and fabricated at considerable rates, there are research outputs on safer, cost-effective, optimum and efficient agricultural practices.
Although, more should be done in the area of research uptake, mechanisation, computation, agricultural predictions and translation of outcomes to achieve the best precision agriculture in Nigeria.