What our universities can offer

Few activities took place some days ago, which underscored the importance of community service in the life of our citadels of learning. Feelers from community leaders attest to this crucial role of the university aside teaching and research. What some farmers can really achieve when it comes to food security is equally of interest. According to the Alake and Paramount Ruler of Egbaland, Oba (Dr.) Adedotun Gbadebo and the Agura of Gbagura, Oba Sabur Bakre, the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State is on the right path on this. Leading the Egba chiefs, the Alake, who was the first to commission the 300-seater Senate Building Extension of the university, lauded such giant strides while, the Agura was represented by Bashorun Festus Kehinde, who commissioned the University Academic Building.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kolawole Salako pointed out that the commissioned building was one of the uncompleted buildings inherited from the tenure of the former Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oluwafemi Balogun, which he had to complete and equip, for occupying a strategic point in the university. On their part, three of retired professors of the institution; Olusegun Osinowo, Ishola Adamson, and Olusegun Lagoke, who also commissioned three other projects, lauded the institution’s achievements, noting that the VC had promoted sports, youth development as well as academic excellence and economic prosperity on campus. Also, the Chief Medical Director, Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Idi Aba, Abeokuta, was Prof. Adewale Olomu, who commissioned the University Maternity Clinic and X-ray buildings, describing the facility as one of its kind in the country.

Similarly, a former Nigerian President, Chief (Dr.) Olusegun Obasanjo has inaugurated a 7-billion litre capacity dam in the institution. Obasanjo, who was represented by his son, Seun, commended the institution for the project. The former President urged other institutions and communities to emulate such gesture, adding that it would enhance the aspirations towards attaining national development. Obasanjo, however, stressed that he would be willing to work continuously with FUNAAB and its community, to attract more development to the state. In his remarks, Prof. Salako said the construction of the dam started in 2018, to address the perennial water shortage on campus and its environs, noting that the project would serve as a source of water supply for irrigation farmers, as well as the entire campus including hostels, official quarters and other campus facilities.

Meanwhile, a graduate of Animal Production and Health from FUNAAB, Mr. Adeola Adeniran has disclosed that he feels sad each time he learns that a graduate of agriculture is searching for a white-collar job. He stated this in an interview during an agriculture-oriented programme, saying “I feel sad when I hear that an agriculture graduate is seeking a white-collar job. I see this as a waste of time or misplaced priority”. Adeniran, who graduated about eight years ago, explained that the company he established undertakes the breeding, processing and selling of live goats as well as sheep and cattle. He said his interest in this line of business started when he went for the one year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme in Zamfara State. He added that he worked in a livestock farm by dealing with ruminants; and this helped him greatly in what he is presently doing in his company. “As an agriculture graduate, you can move to crops cultivation or livestock breeding, processing and selling. There other value chains in the agricultural sector, which agriculture graduates can explore”, he added.

Talking about the breed of goats that he specialises in breeding and where he gets his stock, Adeniran said his stocks are main the Maradi Sokoto and Sahel goats, which are from the North-West part of the country. He added that since he gets his stock directly from the sellers, his prices are cheaper than those, who sell such breed of goats in Abeokuta and its environs. The farmer noted that the business is profitable because the breeding, processing and selling of his goats are done under hygienic environment and there is paddock where the goats feed and get nourished. On the challenges facing the business, the agriculturist said there are a lot of challenges in the business, ranging from long hours of journeys and unexpected death by some of the animals in transit.

“This business has its downside. A journey of two days at times may drag to three or four days, and since it is not normal to feed these ruminants while in transit, or give them water, if a truck conveying them breaks down on the road, there will be problems. Some of the goats will die, which is a loss to the owner”, Adeniran reiterated. Beyond teaching, learning and conducting of research, universities have a lot to offer in a bid to drive national development, reduce poverty, and provide employment to the people. What is needed to assist these ivory towers are good funding and better interaction between the Town and Gown for them to make the desired impact. Not only that, there should be effective monitoring and evaluation regarding these worthy communal efforts to succeed.

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