The Executive Secretary of Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN ), Professor Garba Sharubutu, has said inexperienced farmers are benefiting more from grants handed down by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Sharubutu, while reeling out his scorecard before Agriculture Correspondents Association of Nigeria (ACAN) recently in Abuja, suggested that before anybody be graduates of agriculture or any related field gets access to grants he or she should be made to undergo rigorous internship training.
According to him, the exercise would prepare them with the requisite entrepreneurial skills needed to help them rake up millions of naira for themselves and boost food sufficiency in the country.
He further noted that the 52 Colleges of Agriculture and other related research institutes across the country should be supported to enable them fully unleash their potential in addressing food insecurity.
While harping on cocoa production, he disclosed that the Federal Government had released fund to the Cocoa Research Institute (CRIN) to develop new varieties of the crop.
“Cocoa has been a crop of concern to the Minister, when we went to brief the minister over the issue of cocoa research, his first challenge to us there is some of the best breeders we have in this country are Yoruba, Cocoa is a Yoruba crop, how come the best brains are now allowing the best product to be taken over by Ivory Coast.
“What is the problem?, Artificial insemination has to do with getting the animals to stay in one place because you cannot artificially inseminate an animal that is hungry.
“So, you put them in one place, you flush them, when they come on heat, you inseminate them.
“Getting our people to stay in one place is a problem. What is our solution to it? We have keyed into the National Livestock Transformation Program (NLTP), and this is the best way to go, ban grazing in terms of moving from one place to the other, and locate them (livestock),” he explained.
He added: “I have under my purview 11 colleges of agriculture, and let us assume that these 11 colleges of Agriculture are producing 20 HND holders, so we’re going to have 220, now you have 220 farmers every year in this country, it is going to impact seriously.
“But the total number of Colleges of Agriculture we have in this country is 52 so if each of them produces 20 HND holders, what are we doing with this 20?
“By our own analysis, we have found out that less than 30% of them go into agriculture.
“We have written a proposal, right now the proposal is on the table of the Minister. We create entrepreneurship centres in all our colleges of agriculture, that will serve as internship, let the graduates of agriculture go there and learn the trade
“So the proposal is there, we are trying to see how we would do in order to encourage people to go into Agriculture, and internship is the best method for us.”