The Vice-Chancellor, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State, Prof Felix Salako, has joined the call on Federal Government to move away from oil resources and embrace agriculture, as a sustainable route to national development.
The Vice-Chancellor stated this while declaring open the facilitation and communication skills training programme that was organised in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital by the Cassava, Adding Value for Africa II (CAVA II) Nigeria Project, for Agricultural Development Programmes? (ADPs) extension officers and procurement staff of large-scale cassava producers.
Salako, observed that ?We are having new generation of extension officers. All of you sitting here are young, seeing your faces; I think we are meeting new generation of extension officers. And I hope you are really going to be the catalyst that would push the nation forward in terms of using agriculture as an alternative to crude oil export. It is dawning on everybody now ? whether we like it or not ? we are running into trouble with oil. What may even make oil to be useless in the fact that people are already thinking of alternative source of energy, even for running cars. The training could not have come at a better time than now?.
Salako added that ?We are ready to partner to strengthen the skills of workers; extension agents in particular, using participatory and adult-learning methodology, to enhance timely and sustained supply of cassava root by small medium farmers. We are confident that the completion of course will make you better and help in building your capacity to aid effective facilitation and communication with farmers. As extension officers, you need to step up your roles and duties in contributing to the development of our nation. You need to develop good relationship with farmers and subsequently, use these skills to connect yourself. And one thing that has come to fore these days is that farmers did not trust agriculturists anymore. You must be ready to convince the farmer, even to listen to you?.
?So, you need a lot of effort to be able to convince farmers about innovation these days and this is where I think you have Herculean tasks, being agricultural extension agents. I want to tell you that the information and feedbacks we get from farmers are not that good. The Vice-Chancellor noted that it was crucial to put together the training, aimed at enhancing facilitation and communication skills of participants in having better knowledge of life-changing management, saying that this approach of engaging both extension agents of the state ADPs and procurement executives of cassava-processing factories would definitely achieve the desired results.
The Country Manager of CAVA II (Nigeria) and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Development) Designate of FUNAAB, Professor Lateeef Sanni, recalled that the issue of inconsistency in the supply of raw materials was a major and critical point for the survival of large scale industries, noting that sourcing for raw materials of between 250 and 450 tonnes of cassava required quite a lot of work. ?We are aware that you have different locations where you source for raw material but at present, there are some issues we have itemised in the last two years ? right quality, right quantity and right time of supply ? which should be urgently addressed?, he stated.
?The major problem is that the farmers themselves have informed us that some of the extension officers or procurement officers are delaying their payments, which is attitudinal and that?s why we felt its better we bring in a consultant that will interact with you on facilitation, communication and sustainable engagement?, he disclosed. Meanwhile, to further boost agricultural production, CASSAVA 2017TECH Conference was earlier hosted by CAVA II (Nigeria), in conjunction with FUNAAB and other development partners, to bring together actors involved in cassava processing-equipment manufacturers, fabricators, financiers, scientists and engineers in West and Central African countries, to discuss latest development in the cassava industry.