The acting vice chancellor, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, (FUNAAB), Professor Ololade Enikuomehin, has disclosed that agriculture has become a mainstay of the nation’s economy and that the future of Nigeria depends largely on agriculture.
Professor Enikuomehin made the remarks at the just-concluded 5th National Conference/Exhibition and Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigerian Women in Agricultural Research and Development (NiWARD).
The theme of the programme was ‘Diversity and Inclusiveness in Agricultural Transformation’.
“Women have a vital role to play in the agricultural activities, as most of these activities are done by women. We would like you to encourage more women to subscribe to courses in agriculture,” he said.
Professor Enikuomehin, who was represented at the occasion by the director, Centre for Excellence in Agricultural Development and Sustainable Environment (CEADESE) of FUNAAB, Professor Okanlawon Onagbesan, enjoined all stakeholders to work together in ensuring that the full potential of the country is realised by engaging in agriculture.
Corroborating the acting vice chancellor, the director, African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD), Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, urged African leaders to strengthen and increase investment, research and development in agriculture, as well as engage more women, if the continent is to sustain the current momentum of improved Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Dr Kamau-Rutenberg said that the “current trends already indicate growth in a positive direction with the World Bank reporting that agricultural GDP growth in sub-Saharan Africa has accelerated from 2.3 per cent per year in the 1980s to 3.8 per cent per year from 2000 to 2005.”
She added that the African Development Bank (AfDB) had identified agriculture as the continent’s second largest industrial sector by value, while McKinsey Global study estimated that agriculture in Africa would grow by 6 per cent per year until 2030.
She, therefore, advised Africans to decide whether increased food production would be part of an agriculture that followed previous paths of extraction to the export of Africa’s natural resources.
Kamau-Rutenberg stated further that the fertility of African soils and the continued threat of the extraction and appropriation of resources did not build much prosperity for the continent.
Strengthening African agriculture, she said, would have significant economic impact that reaches majority of the population.
She reminded stakeholders that women make significant contributions to agricultural production, but do not get as much recognition and opportunities to influence policy and decision-making; therefore, there is the need for greater efforts aimed at making the agricultural sector more gender-responsive.