The Federal Government has commenced the process of moving the Universities of Agriculture away from the Federal Ministry of Education (FMOE), to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
In addition, it is also seeking the amendment of the Act establishing the Universities of Agriculture in the country.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief, Audu Ogbeh, disclosed this in Abuja that a committee has been constituted to look at the act establishing the Universities of Agriculture.
In the process of a shift within the ministries, Ogbeh emphasised that the committee should ensure they are properly moved to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture without any conflict with the Federal ministry of Education.
Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike in Abia State; Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, and Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi are the three Universities in focus.
In the meeting with Vice Chancellors and Pro-chancellors of the Universities, Ogbeh reiterated that the Federal Government is taking the step to adjust the laws to ensure the Universities of Agriculture focus on solving industry needs through innovation driven research.
He added that the Federal Government would love to increase the number of the Universities to 15, once it finishes the process moving the Universities to the Federal Ministries of Agriculture.
”Our annual food import still hovers around $22bn annually. Rice alone takes $5 million in the country, and we have all these institutions. This is the time to think of the future,” he added.
“India has 87 Universities of Agriculture and you know they are exporting rice to us. Brazil has 70 Universities of Agriculture and they are exporting rice to us,” said Ogbeh.
Moreover, the Federal Government is already getting interest from research institutes in Europe and America to assist Nigeria’s Agricultural universities to grow their research methodology.
Advising the three universities, he implored them that they can commercialise their research as there are opportunities of research grants from advanced Agricultural research institutes who are in need of collaborating with Nigeria.
“The Chinese have contacted us for Soymilk and legumes. Our Universities of Agriculture can make huge money from these openings for I know whatever you get from the Federal Government as support is not enough. Think of commercialising your research findings and expand your impact,” he implored.
To play a leading role in research that address industry needs, the Federal Government in February commenced the process of moving the Universities of Agriculture to allow them play a leading role in research that address industry needs.
He noted further that it will allow commercialisation in their research findings, while they solve needs through research.