2ND ANNUAL FACULTY OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES LECTURE DELIVERED BY MR. RAYMOND ISIADINSO O. ON THE 29TH OF JUNE 2016

The Vice Chancellor, Ekiti State University, Ado – Ekiti,

Deputy Vice-Chancellors,

Registrar and other Principal Officers of the University,

The Provost, College of Medicine,

Our Host, Dean of Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and other Deans,

Heads of Departments,

Members of Academic, Technical and Non-academic staff of the University,

Distinguished invited guests and friends of the University,

Gentlemen of the Print and Electronic Media,

My dear students – the favoured ones,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Other invited guests, Ladies and gentlemen.

Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands. – Thomas Jefferson.

It gives me a great pleasure to be in your midst today to share with you my experience as a practicing Agriculturist (with special interest in Animal Agriculture), for over two decades – 1988/1989 – 2016. The years gone by seemingly look long and tortious, but the joy of the experience garnered and the impartations of the industry in my life are what I will like to share with you in this lecture titled: “THE RELEVANCE, PROSPECTS AND CAREERS IN AGRO-ALLIED SECTOR OF NIGERIA ECONOMY”.

I shall be highlighting the relevance of our profession as Agriculturists, the prospects and myriads of portfolios open to a graduate Agriculturist upon graduation and try to relate the collative effects of our positive inputs on the growth of Nigerian economy.

This is more important now that the real and most preferred sector to open up a new vista in the growth and sure stability of our economy is the Agricultural sector.

Historically, Agricultural practice dates back to creation (garden of Eden, Cain and Abel, etc) or scientifically – medieval years or stone age era. Throughout those years till now and possibly till the end of age, Agriculture has been the most supportive sector of any race through its impact on various industrial and nay economic activities. In fact, permit me to make an unequivocal statement in this august gathering that apart from God Almighty, Agriculturists through their various professional competencies confers posterity and race sustenance to humanity.

 

The relevance of the various fields in Agriculture abounds and is well articulated by the various departments that make up the faculty of Agriculture. All the trainings offered by these various departments are closely interwoven and none can exist completely without the other hence in most schools where Agriculture is taught, a well cut out programme is planned for graduates of Agriculture to share common knowledge through uniform lectures from year 1 to year 4 (with exception of few departmental courses) and only to major in one’s chosen department in the 5th or final year.

Upon graduation, multi professional opportunities are open to graduates of Agriculture to contribute their quota in various fields of human endeavours either as individuals or in a team with other Agricultural experts or better still in a team with other professionals from the field of Biochemistry, Engineering, Medicine, Estate & Town Planning, Oil & Gas exploration, Aviation industry, Building and Drilling Engineers, Farm management and Statisticians for feasibility studies and team members in managing various projects.

In the light of the above prospects, Agricultural experts have been in control of various ministries of Agriculture where short and long term policies are formulated for the government, agencies, departments and industrial applicators. Also the ministries play pivotal role in the watering down of the government policies through extension workers to the various field users of the policies and programmes.

In the recent past and till now, there has been a problem with the establishment of grazing lots for Fulani herdsmen. This is one area that is creating a huge opportunity for some of us in Soil Science, Animal Science and Crop Science to form a team, secure government licenses (either federal, state or local) to acquire commercial lands for the establishment of standard rotational grazing lots for our beef and dairy cattle, creating wealth through value chain addition.

Also for mention is the establishment of commercial hay and silo making industries with simple technologies to turn them into bales, pellets, marshes, and tasty-coloured and attractive crumbs as is the case in the western world.

 

With the estimated Nigerian population growth put at 300million in year 2030 and 500million in year 2050, all eyes are on graduates of Agriculture to match these population growth with equal food production through fast improvements in the value chains without which there will be a catastrophe in terms of hunger, starvation, death and eventual shame to us as professionals who have failed on their responsibilities of feeding the populace.

Knowledge-driven, research-based and trust culture amongst Agricultural graduates is needed to lessen the noise of Oil & Gas operators while upping the ante or raising the bar for investors in Agriculture. Our problem is that we are still very shy, quiet and at times timid, not imagining the great opportunities in stock for us that are untapped.

In my days as a youth corper in Owo L.G.A of Ondo State as a liaison officer, we formed a team as young Agric graduates, established orchards of seedless Oranges & grafted Mangoes. We learnt after we left that they were just eaten and shared amongst teachers, students etc as the orchard did very well. But today after visiting Bangkok, Thailand few years back, I was startled to observe that a home-made machine with little technology earned a young graduate of Crop Science huge foreign exchange by exporting Orange nectar or paste from same species of Mango and Oranges we planted as corpers then. This is just thick, undiluted juice which is kept at a temperature to prevent it from agents of spoilage while still remaining fresh for the orange & mango juice making industries.

My friends, can’t we “Ginger our Swaga” as the musicians usually say and turn our various theories into practice with little trials and errors here and there? Why is it that we always carry our “I am a graduate” tag around instead of our knowledge?

In my graduating year, I made the best result and was retained by my department as a graduate assistant but the crave to develop my locked talents which have been well boosted by my academic training through my lecturers never allowed me to stay back. I rather chose to challenge myself by putting into practice all I was taught in my 5 years stay in the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. This includes formulating feed for many poultry farms thereby demystifying or diluting the mystery surrounding already customized poultry diets which was an exclusive preserve of the big & giant feed millers (you know them).

In doing this, I gained sharp and instant market share, recognition and trust among farmers and sales of my additives and supplements exploded. I created many tailor made feed mills amongst poultry farmers, monitored them closely by giving them personalized services which the “giant feed mills” could not give while earning their trust. The sizes of their eggs and number of crates of eggs inceased. There was also a drastic reduction in the cost of production and more profits for the farmers. By the time the giant-posture feed millers could realize what was happening, I have already established trust relationship amongst my clients and it could no longer be eroded as seeing, they say, is believing.

Some of us were trained by our parents with funds raised from various Agricultural practices hoping to take over the baton by succession when they are old; we only abandoned them by joining the “jones” due to peer pressure by claiming to belong to other sectors like banking, oil & gas, telecommunication, etc. The result of this today is the reason for the closure of giant projects of the past and dead dreams of our parents due to lack of succession. Some careless ones even map out the farms into plots of land and dispose them to their shame and lack of ignorance of what gold they have on hand.

No wonder you now see the crave for “importing” Indians, Ghanaians, South Africans, etc to take up juicy job openings that hitherto would have been taken by us. They are paid in hard currencies while we roam about for the scarce jobs trying to push out others in their callings even up to becoming musicians!

I challenge us to reverse this ugly trend in the nearest future by giving up ourselves for trust, to investors (local & foreign), showing seriousness and good work attitude in our various callings and I bet you the resultant effect of this will be a total displacement of these foreigners taking up our positions and possibly another clamour for   ‘Indian or Ghana – must-go”   in Agricultural establishments will resonate -if you permit me to use that slogan.

We should take our future in our hands and strive to reverse the ugly trend of joblessness amongst professional Agriculturists or else we fall from our already secured position as the most enviable and multi-faceted profession.

Why do we continue to import salt licks from India, why do we import veterinary drugs from Egypt, Tunisia, Vietnam, Siri-lanka, etc.? Can’t we brace up and task our brains and manufacture these things locally in Nigeria to create jobs and earn foreign exchange by exporting to our neighbours?

How did we suddenly lose our “GIANT OF AFRICA TOGA” with many “dwarfs climbing on our heads with reckless abandon? I urge us to take up this challenge, pair up with your best friends, think of what you can produce today to write your name in the sand of archivers like the goggle guys, Bill Gates and our own Dangote.

I want us to feel envied by other professionals from this point on. Ask me how and why? Even the so called Medical doctors know that healthy and natural food is better than formulated food –that is Neurotherapy as against chemotherapy. We are to be consulted when issues of safe food for safe health is mentioned. Instead of having a business to sell wings and laps of Turkeys, why not go into commercial broiler grow-out programme specializing in all-in, all-out broiler programme? What of areas of flower farming and aesthetics that is becoming Keyans gold today? What of fattening and finishing beef animals for sale as live animals or cut-ups into slabs? What of processing tomatoes into pastes, what of servicing tractors, refurbishing farm equipment like mechanical and electrical parts, what of processing milk into flavoured youghourts, turning egg during glut seasons into egg flour or liquids for various industrial applications, what of developing Nigerian pepper rather than Cameroun pepper or Cotonou pineapple?

Ladies and gentlemen, I can go on and on as the opportunities are limitless. However, a stitch in time, they say, saves nine. Consider the areas and field you fit in and make a mark out of it in your life time and don’t be a jack of all trade and master of none. Remember that a rolling stone gathers no moss, time lost today cannot be recovered tomorrow.

Finally, let us as Agricultural experts take up the challenge that is set before us by the present global and Nigerian economic downturn to prove to the other sectors like Oil & Gas, Banking and Telecommunications (that have reigned for decades but now fading) that Agriculture is the backbone for true industrial revolution and sustainable and long lasting economic stability.

Thank you all.

ISIADINSO RAYMOND O.

B. Agric Animal Science, RAS,FNIAS.

MD/CEO MID-CENTURY AGRO-ALLIED VENTURES

LAGOS – NIGERIA.

E-mail: centurytrends@yahoo.com