The Executive Director, Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), Dr. Shola Adepoju, has called on Nigerians to return to agriculture describing it as the hope for the country. Making this declaration at the 3rd Professor Peter Adebola Okuneye Intervarsity Debate (PAID 2016), organised by the Agricultural Economics’ Student Association (AECOSA), of the University, Dr. Adepoju, who was the chairman of the occasion said, “agriculture is all hope for Nigerian now because that is what everybody has gone back to but unfortunately, it is not the day we start up that we start to get the result from it”, hence, the need for government to expedite action towards the approval and disbursement of the country’s agricultural budget. The Executive Director lamented that any further delay in the disbursement might result in funds not reaching the appropriate quarters and achieving the set targets before the rain stops.
The Vice-Chancellor and President, Association of African Universities (AAU), Professor Olusola Oyewole, described the theme of the debate, “Transition in Government: What Hope For Agriculture?” as apt, given the indispensable role of agriculture to the nation’s economy, even as he challenged students of the University and particularly, students of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Farm Management (AE&FM), to always set the pace in agricultural advancement and development in the country. “The theme is very apt for such a time as this, being that we are in a transition, and at a time where there are many challenges facing the country that can be solved through research. We are also at a time when the agricultural system of this country needs attention”, he stated.
Professor Oyewole congratulated the former Dean, College of Agricultural Management and Rural Development (COLAMRUD), Professor Adebola Okunneye, in whose name the debate was founded, for ensuring its sustainability and improving on it by the presentation of awards to deserving agriculturists, who have distinguished themselves in the field of agriculture. Explaining the rationale behind the 3rd PAID Programme, Professor Okuneye, said it was to analyse how well agriculture had fared in the country and proffer solution on the way forward. Professor Okuneye, who observed that the various transitions and inconsistencies in government had led to policy summersault and resulted into the stagnant trend in agriculture, as he called on relevant stakeholders to empower farmers. According to him, this can be done through cooperatives and capacity building for farmers, saying “any government that comes in should empower the farmers and ensure that they are self-sufficient. It is our duty to continually train and empower farmers not only in terms of capital but also knowledge”.
In his remarks, the Acting Head of Department (AE&FM), Dr. Luke Okojie, pointed out that the topic for the debate was carefully chosen as a strong policy issue, adding that “I would not be surprised if what is said today becomes the brain-work of forming the next agenda because right now, we are on agricultural transformational agenda, to assist the government on what hope for agriculture. All along, our focus had been on oil but if we wake up, agriculture is coming in to the forefront, through cassava boom. It is in high demand everywhere in the world and I hope that at the end of the day, the contributions will go a long way in contributing to the framework of forming a very solid policy for Nigerian agriculture”.
The President of AECOSA, Emmanuel Ogunfowote, disclosed that as stakeholders in the agricultural sector of the country, it was imperative for agricultural economic students to know the way forward as regard agriculture in Nigeria, so as to put themselves on the right pedestal on how to contribute to the development of the sector. Highpoint of the event was the presentation of awards to Professors Adeduro Adegeye, Joseph Ayo Babalola University; Professor Adewale Dipeolu, FUNAAB; Hon. Ibironke Sokefun, Commissioner for Agriculture, Ogun State and Professor Igbekele Ajibefun, Vice-Chancellor, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Ondo State, who was represented by his Personal Assistant, Mr. Olusola Aladesuru. FUNAAB was represented by two of its students in the Department of AE&FM, Aishat Salami, 300-level; and Damilola Mohammed, 500-level; who emerged 2nd position with an aggregate score of 74.67per cent. The duo competed with teams from the University of Ibadan (UI), Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) and the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU). Dignitaries present at the event include the Vice-Chancellor, Olabisi Obabanjo University (OOU), Professor Saburi Adesanya, who was represented by Professor John Aihonsu; as well as a Radio Personality, Mr. Biodun Bello.