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WHY AGRIC GRADUATES SHUN FARMING – VC

By NBF News

Why Agric graduates shun farming -VC
From MATTHIAS NWOGU, Umuahia
Thursday, March 04 , 2010
Vice Chancellor of Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Professor Ikenna Onyido, says poor social status accorded farmers in the country, lack of capital and government's inability to provide enabling environment for commercial agriculture are responsible for the inability of graduates of agriculture to take up farming as a profession.

He said Nigerians had no regard for farmers as they did for other professionals like bankers, lawyers, medical doctors , politicians and teachers and in a society where status symbols were almost venerated those young Nigerians ran to other jobs where they would get recognition.

Fielding questions from reporters in an interactive session to mark his fourth year as the Vice Chancellor of the University, he said that was not the situation in other countries like the United States where prominent citizens gave up other vocations for farming.

He said that graduates of the university were given everything they required academically to practice successfully in their various fields of specialization in agriculture and called on the government to provide an enabling environment to encourage the graduates to take to farming. That he said, included robust , soft and guaranteed loans, easy land acquisition as well as policies that could make farming attractive adding that on its part the institution had been providing education and researches that could make the nation self sufficient in food production.

'There should be attitudinal change towards agriculturists in terms of respect,' he said, adding that government should as a matter of policy provide an enabling environment that would make farming more attractive, and provide capital incentives.

Prof Onyido said his administration had made reasonable efforts to transform the university to a centre of excellence and had ensured a predictable academic calendar as well as a stable and cohesive community. He said that on assumption of office on March 1, 2006, he inherited about 200 petitions from staff unions on campus, alleging one form of injustice or the other, but said the relationship had become cordial.

According to him, students of the institution ranked among the best behaved in the country as the tendency to resort to violence had been reduced to the barest minimum with the zero tolerance for cultism policy.

He said the proactive approach to fight cultism had yielded positive as about 45 students recently, on their own, renounced membership of cults after a religious outing organized by the authorities to show its dangers .

The VC said the reconciliatory approach to fighting cultism was preferable to expelling culprits as it constituted a loss both to the university and the society that had invested much on them in terms of training and resources.