A University don has said that if Nigeria must diversify its economy and get out of economic mess, occasioned by global drop in oil price, each state of the federation must concentrate on crops in which it has comparative advantage in its production.
The Professor of Agricultural Engineering at the Obafemi Awolowo University OAU, Ile-Ife, Prof. Oseni Kehinde Owolarafe, made the remarks while delivering the 282nd edition of the inaugural lecture series in the ivory tower.
He said that every state and local government area should adopt developing crops, in which they have comparative advantage, stressing that the production, processing, storage and utilisation of the crops
should be properly coordinated.
The title of his lecture is “Building a Paradise in Nigeria – the R&D option for small and medium scale Agro-Allied industries”.
Owolarafe identified investment, in the development of agricultural sector, as a panacea to unemployment which has also increased the rate of crime.
“Nigeria is blessed with many agricultural resources. It is high time the country invested in the development of agricultural sector to improve output from the sector, reduce rate out employment which has induced high crime rate.
“Food production will also be boosted.
“The coordination of the development and adoption of appropriate technologies through Research and Development (R&D) for processing agricultural crops at small and medium scale levels is pivotal to revitalisation of the agro-industrial development,” the lecturer said.
Owolarafe maintained that when the full potentials of Nigeria in agriculture is optimally tapped, “everyone will live in tranquil environment, hence the country will be transformed into a Paradise on earth.”
The lecturer said R&D Institutions that can develop technologies for the production, processing, storage and utilisation of the crops should be identified and commissioned to handle the projects.
To encourage farmers, the agriculture expert recommended that the products from the farmers and processors should be taken up by the government and approximate prices offered to the farmers and processors.
He equally advocated training for youths through the establishment of farm settlements as being carried out at present in Osun State.
Owolarafe encouraged Nigerian students to take up carriers in agriculture citing personal example for young Nigerians to emulate.
“The option to read Agricultural Engineering in this University came out of my volition being the son of a farmer with whom I spent my youthful life…
“There was a serious pressure on me by my secondary school teachers to study Medicine but I initially but I initially insisted on studying Chemistry Education because I love teaching as a profession.
“Later I was lured into Engineering and I saw Agricultural Engineering in the brochure.
“I was curious to find out about the course and I realise that it is the right profession for me to better the lots of my people on the farm and I chose to study the course,” he said.
The agriculture expert also tasked young scholars to be goal oriented, saying this has made him to remain focussed despite many challenges.
“At graduation (1989), my mission as written in the directory reads: To contribute immensely to technological development of the country and to become an inventor.
“With all humility, I am happy to say here that this course of study has enabled me to accomplish the two missions stated above to the best of my ability,’’ Owolarafe said.
The lecture, which focus on the development of appropriate processing technology for oil palm fruit, also showcased the discovery of new process lines and machines as well as getting feedback from utilisation of such technologies by the adopters.
It also showed the linkage between the laboratory research and field trials.
By Adeyinka Aremu