ACE, Ohio Partner On $30m Agricultural Investment
Create Employment Opportunities
WORRIED by the spate of unemployment in the country and what would be the fate of over 15, 000 students of Adeyemi College of Education (ACE), Ondo, after graduation, the Provost of the College, Prof. Olukoya Ogen, has resorted to agriculture for gainful employment opportunities for Nigeria’s teeming unemployed youths and as a bail-out from the current massive drop in oil prices and the nation’s economic recession.
Ogen told The Guardian that a tertiary institution in the 21st century is must concentrate mainly on theoretical learning but must also serve as a platform for practical use of whatever learning that is acquired to diversify, improvise and make life more meaningful and comfortable for the people.
The current agricultural initiative of the College is made feasible, according to Ogen, by hinging on the existing relationship with Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, which dates back to 1964 and which attracted some benefits to the institution in the past. The current partnership is tailored towards strengthening agricultural extension services for local farmers and the establishment and modernisation of 10 major agricultural projects to the tune of $30 million.
At a stakeholders’ meeting in the College, the Provost organized feasibility and assessment chat with the representatives of Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, Prof. Mark Erbaugh and Prof. Chris Igodan, of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), who came to Nigeria for inspection and facility check to assess ACE state of preparedness for the proposed projects.
“Agriculture in Nigeria, especially during this trial time of oil doom, must be given a new lease of life and economic thrust. Farming must cease to be for subsistence but for commercial purpose so that we can also have a number of rich people, who are farmers too like the rich Americans farmers,” the Provost said.
Giving numerous opportunities to students, the host community and Nigerian farmers at large, the project, which will primarily kick-off with palm oil, feed mill, goatry, poultry and cocoa, etc. Ogen said the large expanse of land and other agricultural leverage in some relevant departments of the institution will turn ACE and Ondo State to be the agricultural hub of the nation in the not-too-distant future.
Similarly, the ACE Director of International Linkages, Dr Collins Awosika said as part of the enhancement programme, many farmers across the nation would use Adeyemi College of Education as their resource centre, for training, marketing and expansion of their farm produce.
Awosika, who also served as the intermediary for the partnership between ACE and OSU, noted that the US representatives were in the country to put final touches to the paper work, disclosing that individual farmers, agricultural groups or associations would also benefit from the grant.
The Chairman, Cocoa Merchant Association of Nigeria (CMAN), Ondo Chapter, Mr Johnson Akinniyin affirmed that the initiative will further create more opportunities for expansion of their farms and encourage more Nigerian youths to engage in mechanized farming for commercial purposes.
During the courtesy visit to Governor Olusegun Mimiko, the Director of International Programs in Agriculture at Ohio State University, Prof. Mark Erbaugh informed the Ondo State government that agriculture is important to the US economy particularly that of the State of Ohio, revealing that the foreign institution with over 60, 000 students have partnered with several sub-Saharan African countries to give them agricultural supports, which have considerably improved their economies.
Erbaugh, said the partnership will lead to the development of new training and outreach programs between OSU and ACE, and ultimately assist in diversifying the economy of Nigeria from its over-dependence on oil.
The Governor, without mincing words, declared strong support for the partnership between the College and Ohio State University stating that the collaboration is in tandem with Ondo State’s subsisting initiatives to switch to agriculture for creating employment opportunities and to save the country from the current poor oil prices.
Mimiko lauded the management of ACE for the innovation and pledged to provide an enabling environment for the initiative to thrive in order to the state to an agricultural hub of the nation.
Moreover, he assured the delegates that the project will have easy start-off since there are available sustainable infrastructures provided by the state in such direction; and hopefully, will lead to a partnership between the state government and the institution in the nearest future.
The governor listed several leverages and available infrastructures such as good road networks, the availability of the Cargo airport in Akure and the proposed deep sea port in the south Senatorial district, which according to him, will considerably aid the exportation of the finished products to all parts of the world.
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