The Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Sonny Echono has claimed that the agricultural sector is the fastest way to alleviate unemployment in the country.
He made the assertion in Abuja on Wednesday, during the vice-chancellors’ roundtable on the implementation of the Agricultural Research and Innovation Fellowship for Africa (ARIFA) in Nigeria with the theme, ‘building the post-vicosa symposium action plan.”
Echono enjoined the vice-chancellors to put more energy into the actualisation of agriculture transformation while urging them to operationalize the centres of excellence in their regions as soon as possible.
He said, “My charge to you is to make this a personal mission because I’m very confident that if we get it right in agriculture in this country half of our problems will be solved because it is the easiest means of creating jobs.
“Most of those who are being recruited into banditry, who are being recruited into the insurgency, if they are able to work on the land they will perhaps prefer to do that.
“And if we can find modern ways of doing things that will significantly improve revenue because as the yield increases, of course, revenues increase and it makes it more attractive.
“As we adopt new technology, develop our mechanization and irrigation we will find opportunities through commercial agriculture and we will be able to absorb the graduates that will be produced because most of the issues if you notice, more than 60 percent of those who graduate with agriculture go on to do other things with their lives because we don’t have commercial farming that can absorb this workforce we produced.
“But as we develop the sector, the demand for personnel in that sector will increase and we will be in a position to also improve our revenue.
“There are countries that depend solely on agriculture and they are doing very well and it is the one resource that God has blessed us with.
“I enjoin you to take this message and take this issue very seriously. There may be a few mistakes along the line but we should correct ourselves. We should operationalize the centres of excellence as quickly as we can,” the ES added.
He added that Nigeria can learn a lot from Brazil through partnership given their track record in the area of agriculture, saying that everything is built through national food security and it is the responsibility of all of us to ensure that happens.
Also speaking, the executive secretary of Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo said the workshop is to have an internationalization process, saying that the outcomes from the meeting will feed into Post-Viçosa Sympo Action Plan, held at the University of Lagos from 14th – 16th July.
He said the meeting will focus on priority areas of demand for increased capacity in STEM, and the establishment of innovation platforms, among others.