Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, is set to fully engage in commercial agriculture on its 363-hectare farms to enhance food security in the country.
Prof. Kabir Bala, Vice-Chancellor of ABU, made this known in Zaria, via a statement by Malam Auwalu Umar, Acting Director, Public Affairs, of the university on Tuesday.
Bala said that the university had concluded arrangements to begin commercial farming next cropping season so as to boost its revenue base, fight hunger and provide employment opportunities to the youth.
He stressed that ABU had a comparative advantage in agriculture, in view of its vast agricultural complex which was one of the best in the world.
The vice-chancellor said that the researchers at the complex would be encouraged to take up the challenge of ensuring food sufficiency in the country.
“Let me reiterate that from the next farming season, we are going to cultivate all our farms 100 per cent for commercial purposes. Our farms must give us the food we eat; we must set the example.
“The university’s agricultural researchers must buckle up in their search for more yields and nothing should stop the institution from producing more than 100 bags of produce per hectare, as is the case in many developing nations,’’ he said.
Bala stressed that the university had a vital role to play in the country’s agricultural development, recalling that the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) had once recommended the ABU agricultural model for other countries.
He said that Nigeria should strive to attain food security by producing sufficient food to meet its citizens’ dietary needs, while becoming a net exporter of farm produce.
“A family is food secure when its members do not live in hunger or fear of hunger.
“This is a task that must be accomplished because food insecurity is often rooted in poverty and it has long-term negative impacts on the ability of families, communities and countries to develop and prosper.
“Prolonged undernourishment stunts growth, slows cognitive development and increases susceptibility to illness.”
The vice-chancellor said that ABU would send some researchers from its agricultural complex to South Africa for a short-term training in commercial farming.
Besides, Bala said that apart its Faculty of Agriculture, the university also had specialised institutes with national mandates and many internationally recognised researchers.
He listed the institutes as Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), National Agricultural Extension Research and Liaison Services (NAERLS) and National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI)
“All is set to establish an all-embracing research and innovation centre to encourage research for better yields in the university,” he added.
While commending the Faculty of Agriculture and the specialised agricultural institutes for their quality service delivery, Bala underscored the need for Nigerians to design and develop pragmatic solutions to their peculiar problems through research and innovation.