BY PETERS On Nov 29, 2021

President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Federal universities of agriculture to play pivotal roles in catalysing the development of the Agricultural sector.

The President said the Federal Government expected rapid innovations, development of knowledge and skills in the specialised universities to drive local production of food and raw materials to make the country achieve self-sufficiency in food production for local consumption, as well as export and economic growth.

President Buhari spoke at the weekend during the 10th convocation ceremony of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State.

The President, who was represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, noted that the institutions are cardinal tools for rapid transformation of the sector, as well as a major driver in industrial development and diversification from heavy dependence on oil.

In a statement by the Chief Information Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ezeaja Ikemefuna, President Buhari noted that raising educated farmers with requisite knowledge and skills would position the sector as a business enterprise, which should be the primary task of the agricultural institutions across the country.

According to him, it is expected that universities of agriculture should also bravely confront the heavy dependence of the nation on imported food and raw materials with the view to reducing it to the barest minimum at the shortest time.

President Buhari urged the institution to develop technologies that would fast-track agricultural production, processing, packaging and distribution.

He added: “We shall not relent; rather, we shall double our efforts at creating the enabling environment for our specialised universities of agriculture to fulfil our collective dream of self-reliance in food production.

“We can, and should be able to, feed ourselves on the rich soils and diverse ecologies that the nation is endowed with. We should be determined to wisely exploit the natural resources and inheritance of our nation to feed our people and possibly export to other nations.

The President urged the graduating students and the institutions to be focused and determined, saying: “Where there is a will, there is always a way.”

He said the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) had been reconstituted to promote mechanised agriculture.

“The Federal Government expects that specialised universities of agriculture will collaborate with NALDA to ensure increased local production of food,” President Buhari said.