The Federal Government says it has henceforth banned the admission of students who do not have farming interests into its Universities of Agriculture.
Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said this at a stakeholders meeting with registrars and pro-Chancellors of the universities in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said the decision was to reposition the institutions with a view to involving youths in agriculture, training them to proffer solutions to the multi-faceted problems in the sector.
The minister, who expressed regrets that non-agriculture-based courses like engineering was being thought in the schools, directed that only agriculture-related disciplines be thought.
Ogbeh said the Federal Government’s decision to relocate its three Universities of Agriculture from the Federal Ministry of Education to Agriculture, was to refocus the schools as globally acclaimed citadels to move the agriculture sector forward.
He assured the universities that the government would actively support them by providing funds and grants to assist in research to move the agriculture sector forward.
“The domiciliation of the universities in this ministry is a commendable effort by the Federal Government based on sound reasoning and logic.
“Your return will effectively help us to reposition the three universities of agriculture as centres of excellence for the rapid development of the agriculture sector.
“There is no place where the competence and capacity to drive agriculture resides outside the Universities of Agriculture. We need to achieve a hunger-free Nigeria.
“Henceforth, students who are not interested in becoming farmers should be made to seek admission elsewhere.
“We are determined to offer you the necessary support for your transformation, for research for a healthier realm of discovery and self-actualisation,’’ the minister said.
Mr Mohammed Munguno, the Chairman, House Committee on Agricultural Production and Services, advocated a bill to establish the National Universities Agricultural Commission to regulate operations of the Universities of Agriculture.
He said that the National Assembly would amend their rules to make sure that the universities were adequately domiciled in the ministry for effective monitoring by the assembly.
“There is need either through an executive bill or bill to be sponsored by the House and Senate Committees on Agriculture for the establishment of the National Universities of Agricultural Commission.
“The commission will be charged with the responsibility of regulating the universities of agriculture to effectively perform their statutory roles in tandem with the laws establishing them,’’ Munguno said.
Prof. Anya O. Anya, the Pro-Chancellor of the Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia, applauded the Federal Government for the relocation.
Anya, who raised concern over disconnect with the science and practice of agriculture in the country, expressed hope that the domiciliation of the universities in the ministry would reposition the sector.