By Adelola Amihere
Federal colleges of agriculture in the country have called on the federal government to as a matter of urgency to put in place legislative laws that will back their operations in their mandate to train farmers in formal and informal sector.
The Chairman Committee of Provosts and Provost of Federal College of Animal Health Nutrition (VOM), Plateau States, Prof. Garba Sharubu revealed this at the 1st National Conference and Conferment of Award of the National Committee of Heads Of Colleges of Agriculture And Related Disciplines (NACHCARD) in Abuja recently,.
According to him, about 52 Colleges of agriculture spread across Nigeria are said to lack legislative laws guiding their operation in their mandate to train farmers in formal and informal sector.
“As we are talking to you, there is no legislation establishing particularly federal colleges of agriculture. The proprietorship is under the federal ministry of agriculture. The regulatory aspect has to do only with the courses that are being run so it falls under the polytechnics. For now, we are neither been here no there.
“We are not in the ministry of education, we are fully in the ministry of agriculture that has no power to regulate our own activities.”
“When you have a problem with the administrative set up, the legal frame work of of any institution, the issue of appointment, training, fringe benefits and of course funding comes in.
“Virtually in all the interventions available for tertiary education in Nigeria, the colleges of agriculture are left out”, he stated
Earlier n his goodwill message the Acting Executive Secretary of Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN) represented by Director of Agric Policy Research, Dr Kiddah Danjuma said, Agriculture is a key component of Nigeria economy accounting for an average of 23% of Nigerian GDP and employing about 60% of the active population.
“A retrospective look at the Nigerian economy and it its development showed that agriculture used to be main stay of the economy and major foreign exchange earner”
“However, with the advent of petroleum, the contribution of agriculture to the nation’s growth has declined sharply over the years”.
Speaking further, he said several efforts in the recent past designed to develop and support the generation and adoption of improved agricultural technologies is yet to produce the much desired result of positioning agriculture in its rightful place as a driver of Nigeria economy.
The chairman, House Committee on Agricultural Colleges and Institutions Hon. Linus Abba Okorie also said that the agricultural research sector is very marginalised and he is committed to development of the agriculture research.
“One of the key function of the bill is to return colleges of agriculture back to the TETFUND and that is very critical because I hold the view that colleges of agriculture are like colleges of education.
“Indeed, they are polytechnics not mono-technics, originally, they were within the coverage of TETFUND but unfortunately, you see when you sleep on your right, when laws are being amended and reviewed, and you don’t step forward as a stakeholders to protect your interest”.
“Lawmakers are not magicians they only act like a judge and work on information in front of them. They don’t do what they should do then and they were removed from that act then and I think it is an error and it should be corrected”.
“We have done public hearing public hearing on it. We are hoping that the stakeholders will rally round so that before the end of 8th assembly it will passed and presented to Mr President for his accent.
“What is actually means is that with that particular bill, funding constraint will be reduced in terms of infrastructural development especially for research.
“You cannot achieve so much success in the ARCN Reform Act without the bill becoming law,” he added