Until Nigerian scientists, technologists, engineers and financial institutions collaborate to find solutions to the nation’s industrial challenges, the country may not get out of the woods.
Prof. Tunde Oluwalana of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, made this assertion in an interview with The Hope, where he added that agricultural policies should not just be well crafted and holistic, but should not be derailed due to personal interests.
While praising the documented agricultural policies of government on agriculture, he lamented the lack of implementation.
“The documents are there but when it comes to implementation, that is another story.
“If you have a policy which people put their heads together to formulate and it goes through the due legal process, the legislative arm and it becomes an act and gets to the point of implementation and certain people in the corridor of power want the benefit for themselves and not for the totality of the nation, then there would be policy summersault.
“It is not that Nigeria cannot grow rice but some people are bringing the rice from Indonesia, Thailand, India, China, and making money. They will never support the policy of rice cultivation, no matter how good it is.”
He challenged government at all levels to do all it takes to make agriculture the most desirable job in the country, saying that is the way to secure the future of the country in view of the present population boom.
“If they do not do something about agriculture, there is an impending danger of hunger in this country, because people are procreating at an alarming rate.
“The government does not have the birth rate and all the money we are getting are pumped into food importation.”
He posited that if packaging of water have made many people rich, how much more when other consumables are well packaged and sold.
His words: “If packaging of water have turned many people into billionaires, imagine the result if someone can plant, harvest and process tomatoes into different things like tomato paste and all kinds of products.
“Perishable foods can be packaged and sold.
“The white guys are developing technologies that will not depend on petroleum again and by the time they are through with it, they will no longer need our petroleum and we will be left with agriculture.”
On the way forward, the professor said that government should make single digit interest loans and lands available for youths, being what would attract them to the venture.
He decries the prevailing agricultural practice in the country, saying that it is a recipe for failure.
“I have talked to many government at different forms, nobody does the type of farming we do in Nigeria and make any advance.
“We have farmers and everyone of them is just cultivating 1000 heaps of yam each at different locations. How can that be sufficient for the country?
“What they do in the advanced countries is to map out areas that are good for specific commodities.
“In Ondo State, there are massive areas in Akokoland, Owo and Ifon, that would be good for cassava and tomatoes.
“Areas in Akure, Ilara, and Igbara Oke and up to Idanre are very good for yam and some other products.
“The days of cutlases and hoes are over. If you go on the internet, you will see small tools that are motorised that you can easily use for farming.”
He also canvassed for a change in agricultural syllabus.
“Make agriculture syllabus robust in the secondary school, make it attractive at University level.”