In a passionate appeal to persuade the three tiers of government to prioritise agriculture and make it attractive for the youths and young graduates to pick interest in and take it as a career, an environmental expert has called for the establishment of farm settlement centres in all the 774 local government areas in the country.
Benjamin Azubuike Ekeke, founding head of department of forestry, who spoke with BussinessDay exclusively, said the idea behind this was to change the widespread apathy to agriculture among the youths and graduates in the country so that those who studied agricultural science in the university would have the hope of being employed after graduation.
The establishment of farm settlement centres will also enable the rural farmers receive technical assistance from agriculturists or farm supervisors who go from town to town visiting farms, he said.
Ekeke said the building of farm settlements would create employment for graduates, boost food production to feed the masses and the youths would be attracted to studying agriculture in higher institutions and take farming as a profession.
“It was done before in the days of Michael Okpara (Premier of Eastern Nigeria), when they had farm settlements. These farm settlements were run by graduates of agriculture. These farm settlement officers also worked in the rural communities to give them assistance and sense of belonging, there was food, there was money, there was employment, so is a chain development.
“Government should employ the graduates of the faculty of agriculture, and then open up field activities, field production activities where the various aspects of agriculturists will show their talents and their technical ability to give them opportunity to produce, there will be food, there will be meat and there will be employment,” Ekeke said.
The forester went further to say that “when I was in charge of School of Wildlife Management, New Bussa, we were generating technical students, for two – three years we were graduating students but no jobs.
“At the same time, we came up with the idea of creating national parks, and the national parks will depend on the technical services of these our graduates. And as soon as Kainji Lake National Park and several other parks were established there was no manpower, they now had to call on us to provide the manpower. So, all these technical students that had no job, we employed without exception.”
By: SABY ELEMBA