Afe Babalola Varsity, IFAD, IITA, AfricaRice partner to train 1,000 youths in agribusiness

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By Ariwodola Idowu

Afe Babalola University (ABUAD), Ado Ekiti on Monday signed a three-year agreement with three global institutions to train 1,000 youths in various agricultural techniques.

The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) reports that the institutions are International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and AfricaRice.

This was disclosed during the unveiling of the partnership with ABUAD at the IFAD Project Inception workshop tagged: “Youth empowerment in agribusiness and sustainable agriculture’’ in Ado-Ekiti.

An IFAD Technical Specialist and leader of the team, Dr Malu Muia Ndavi said that the initiative was as a result the institutions’ deep concern for job creation in Nigeria and Africa, having realised that youth unemployment was Africa’s major challenge.

Ndavi said that with the trends of joblessness in Africa and its attending consequences, all hands must be on the deck to tackle the menace.

He said that Africa must reexamine its modules of education and review its curricular to be made to be at par with 21st century economic growth.

“Let me assure you, we will listen to the modalities set by ABUAD to train 1,000 youths within two months in modern farming.

“We are going to ensure that every commitment we make shall be delivered and this will mark the beginning of longstanding partnership with this university,” he said.

The university’s founder, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), decried the high propensity for white collar jobs among youths.

“The mentality of an average Nigerian is that only white collar jobs are good.

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“When white men introduced civil service, the civil servants then lived like gods, so were trained wrongly.

“They never emphasised that farming is a good profession.

“But somebody must correct this wrong impression and IFAD, ABUAD must be ready to do this. We must research and bring new innovations to agriculture and modernise farming.’’

He said that for a university to be great, it had to be a training ground for all categories of population, especially farmers.

“Apart from that it has to be secured and must be fully residential because the students must be good in learning and character.

“And if they go away, how do you know their characters? If a student is taking cannabis, how do you monitor him? “How do you monitor his punctuality? This is the advantage of a university like ours.

“Here in ABUAD, we learn even at night, no university does that in Nigeria. Education without functionality is nothing.

“Some lecturers are still using the note they used 35 years ago. Lecturers in ABUAD adopt the newest system of teaching methodology and that is why our students are doing well,” he said.

To underscore the value he placed on farming, Babalola said if he had the second chance of coming to the world,  he would embrace farming as a profession.

“This is because I was born in the farm by a farmer and where I learnt everything that gave me these achievements today.

“In the olden days, people were committed to farming because nobody was coming to kill or kidnap you on the farm.

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“There was no reason for them to go to hospital, I have never gone to any hospital for treatment because I am  with the nature and once you are with the nature, you will be healthy.”

The Acting Vice Chancellor, Prof. Sylvester Ojo said the university was established with a mission to make a mark and contribute to global development.

“This collaboration is coming at the right time because many of the nation’s graduates are involved in kidnapping and robbery prostitution because they have no jobs to do.

“But if we can encourage these youths, job seeking will be solved,” he said.

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