In order to sustain food security in Nigeria, the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife has concluded partnership arrangements with the Nigeria Incentive–Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), and has formally launched 25 hectares of land in the University’s Teaching and Research farm for a pilot project.
Speaking at the launch, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede who was highly elated, expressed the appreciation of the University to NIRSAL for initiating the laudable agricultural project at the institution, explaining that “at inception in 1962, OAU (then University of Ife) was saddled with the major objective of coordinating agricultural development of the then Western Region of Nigeria and the training of students in practical Agriculture”, adding that the Institute for Agriculture Research and Training (IAR & T) was affiliated to the University to assist in achieving the objective.
Professor Ogunbodede who stated that the collaboration with NIRSAL has provided opportunity for training students in the Faculty of Agriculture to acquire practical experience in mechanised agriculture and agribusiness, pointed out that the 25 hectares of land set aside in the University’s Teaching and Research Farm was just a pilot study. He expressed the hope that NIRSAL would support the next phase of the project which would be targeted at increasing the total cultivated area to one thousand (1,000) hectares.
The Vice-Chancellor assured NIRSAL that the University administration will provide all necessary support to ensure the success of the project, even as he said that the partnership when fully nurtured, will assist the University to produce students that are thoroughly trained in all spheres of practical agriculture, who have sufficient interest and have been equipped to lead the future of the nation in successful agribusiness.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed, in his remarks at the launch of NIRSAL National FAM-SMART Programme, said that the project is a new paradigm in agricultural primary production in Nigeria, adding that the concept and philosophy of the project provide for a structured production system that is almost entirely driven by technology, so as to make it attractive to service and input providers and more importantly, rewarding for small holder farmers, thus sending an evidence-based powerful message to the young successor agribusiness men and women, who the students of OAU represent.
He called on agribusinesses to take wise business decisions by committing themselves to supporting primary agricultural production under NIRSAL FAM-SMART model that assures high yield, low transaction cost, less risky financing/production environment and a cashless transaction dynamics.
Aliyu opined that with OAU charting the course, he believed that other universities will also join the model, which is a platform for field demonstration of classroom theories on agriculture and bringing students face-to-face with opportunities in the sector as they make their way through school. He continued that FAM-SMART is a good source of revenue generation for the University, noting that the University environment provides a fitting nursery bed for the FAM-SMART model.
The Ooni, His Imperial Majesty, Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, expressed happiness about the project. He noted that agriculture is the answer to the problem of unemployment in the country and urged all youths to embrace the project noting that it is mechanised farming and technologically-driven