Don: How Engineers Can Boost Agriculture

A University don, Prof. Michael Faborode, has said that the nation’s engineers could boost agricultural products, if local technology is developed and patronized.

The former Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife, Osun State, stated this at the 2nd Annual Engr. Kashim Ali Distinguished Lecture Series entitled: “Agricultural Mechanisation and Food Production for Youth Empowerment: Engineering Sustainable Development”, organised by the Auchi branch of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), in collaboration with Edo State University, Iyamho.

The Professor of Agricultural and Environmental Engineer stated that home grown mechanization and value addition were critical ingredients to transforming the Nigerian agricultural sector.

He said, “Engineers have to assist themselves and show that they are capable to produce what is needed. We must keep fighting for our rights if we must move forward.

“There must be a deliberate effort to produce locally. We must develop local technology. If we import from Brasil, the jobs will go to Brasil. We need to develop the technological know how. If we do not encourage them, they will not develop.

“Industrialisation is fuelled locally; hence local ingenuity must be encouraged. Every nation builds technologies based on their local demands. India imports less than 5 % of all the components that goes into the production of its tractors.

“Majority of the work is done and sourced locally. Hence, President Buhari is on the right path in stressing that we shall source our raw materials and technologies locally.”

Prof. Faborode also called for the development of agricultural value chains and their consolidation in order to boost the overall productivity of farmers, and strengthen the viable agribusiness industry and culture that is gradually emerging.

He noted that improvement in the agricultural and food productivity in all sector, as well as reduction in food losses and waste, were part of the specific goals to a viable agricultural recovery initiative.

According to him, “The task has become more urgent with the growing population, a considerable number of who are youths, who need to be gainfully employed in modern agriculture and agro-industries as proud, fulfilled and successful entrepreneurs, farmers and industrialists.

“The inescapable conclusion is that the future of Nigerian agriculture resides in entrepreneurship, engineering technology and the youth.

“Local technology development is the way forward. If we do not domesticate our technology, we are just wasting our time. We export our jobs, we export knowledge and our youths will continue to wallow in joblessness. It is possible to produce our tractors in Nigeria. If India can do it, why can’t we do here? Nigerians are capable. Let us believe in ourselves, rather than going to Brasil or India to import everything we need.”

A former President of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) Engr. Kashim Abdul Ali, in his speech, said the recommendations by Prof. Faborode would help to seek solutions to things troubling the nation.

Engr. Ali noted that it was wrong for the Nigerians to leave the country’s problem to others instead of looking inwards to solve problems.

He said Nigerians can bring the country out of doldrums.

President of COREN, Engr. Ali Alimasuya Rabiu, said the body has recorded many successes due to the instrumentality of a new law introduced by the federal government.

Engr. Rabiu said the body would continue to advise government through its engineering bodies and associations on the need to patronise local technology.

He said, “We will put together all the recommendations and advised government accordingly. There is need to get those responsible to implement contents of Executive Order 5.

“It is neither incompetence nor unprofessionalism that makes our engineers not to be patronised. Nigeria Engineers can be the best all over the world. We have Nigerians designing cars abroad. If they have enabling environment they will do well. If you try us and we fail, try us again and we will succeed.

“We are worried about building collapsed. The new law by the federal government has empowered us to create department for regulations and monitoring. To stem the tide of building collapse, the law empowered us to prosecute those that have committed this offence. Before now, we didn’t have those powers. All the investigations we have done showed that in 80 percent of the incidences engineers were never involved.

“The way forward is for engineers to up their game. Government should challenge us and patronise us and we will deliver. All professionals should come together to bring technology to bare in agriculture.”

Immediate past Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, said he completed 20 out of 116 abandoned water projects.

He stated that issuance of Executive Order 5 by President Mohammadu Buhari was the best thing that happened to the engineering profession in the country.

Adamu urged engineers in the county to come together and promote full implementation of the Executive Order 5.

He spoke on the topic “The Professional Engineer in Public Service”.

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