Boosting capacity for sustainable food production

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The Federal College of Agriculture (FECA), Akure, Ondo State is working with farmers and students to boost productivity and improve livelihoods and nutrition, DANIEL ESSIET reports.

A team of researchers, led by  the Provost,  Federal College of Agriculture (FECA), Akure, Ondo State, Dr  Samson Odedina, is  empowering  farmers  and students to produce bio-fortified food through good agricultural practices.

He said the college was working with some farmers to train them in the production of fortified crops for processing into nutritious products. The partnership, according to him, is designed to increase profits for local smallholders as well as help to combat high levels of malnutrition. He  said the college has trained farmers on how to process High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) and other cassava products.

Odedina said through various programmes, the college is training farmers in the rural areas on how to address low yields, which has contributed to chronic food and nutrition insecurity.

To overcome this, he said FECA is promoting sustainable intensification technologies, practices and policies that foster production of nutritious and marketable food.

Odedina said farmers need up-to-date knowledge about growing methods, innovative business models, and best practices to thrive and remain sustainable.

As farming continues to grow, he said agric colleges, such as FECA needs to step up to support urban farmers’needs.

Through its vocational courses, Odedina said FECAprovides technical expertise, networking, and business development programmes for people wanting to venture into farming.

He said prospective agriculture entrepreneurs participated in farm business courses.

At the rural areas, the Provost said rural farmers are exposed to field schools, were they are taught basic farming, including land preparation, seedsplanting irrigationand harvesting.

Also, the college facilitated distribution of initial seed stock of improved varieties to smallholder farmers for multiplication.

This year, the college, in collaboration with the Ondo State government, started a training programme for about 18,000 unemployed graduates across the 18 local government areas of the state.

The training programme, tagged: ‘Youths on the Ridges’, covered some aspects of agriculture, including poultry, snail rearing, piggery, fishery and cassava processing. The participants comprised 1000 youths from each of the 18 local government areas of the state.

Odedina said the institution offered the free training to the beneficiaries as its contribution to the government’s effort to reduce the unemployment rate in Ondo.

According to him, each participant will be expected to choose any area of agriculture.

The FECA boss also said the college had been training youths, especially unemployed graduates, in many aspects of agriculture.

He said: “We will teach the participants in any area of their choice and they will become agro-millionaires after the training because the demands are there for their products. Some of our graduates are doing fine in their businesses. We hope to train more so as to bring our youths out of unemployment through agriculture.”

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