Presiding Bishop of Living Faith Church International, Bishop David Oyedepo, on Wednesday said a paradigm shift to agricultural mechanisation is the solution to joblessness and unemployment in Nigeria.

Oyedepo spoke during the 40th annual general meeting (AGM) of Nigerian Institution of Agricultural Engineers (NIAE) hosted by Landmark University at Omu-Aran in Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State.

The popular cleric noted that aside agriculture, no vocation or institution could accommodate millions of unemployed Nigerians.

He said: “This university (Landmark) has a vision to restore agrarian revolution in Africa and the dignity of the African man. We are endowed with fertile land but have over 400 million hungry graduates looking for job opportunities that do not exist.

“The cheapest way to be gainfully engaged is via agriculture. It can’t go into extinction because man must eat to live. There is no day that food will be irrelevant. It is, therefore, wise and safe now to tackle the impending day of poverty and hunger through mechanised farming.”

The AGM, which doubled as the association’s 20th international conference, had the theme: Innovations and Technologies for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanisation and Livestock Transformation for Economic Growth.

It was attended by participants from within and outside the country.

Keynote Speaker Prof Michael Ngadi said agricultural engineers of this century played a key role in bringing food to the table.

The international expert in food quality and safety with specialisation in heat and mass transfer processes in foods, hyperspectral imaging, sensors and properties of foods decried the high rate of human population across the world.

Putting the global population at about 7.7 billion, he said this has a tendency to grow into 10 billion in a few years.

Ngadi said unless the food capacity is boosted via agricultural mechanisation, man would suffer from famine and quality health conditions.

The international expert dismissed Nigeria’s current population growth as the likely cause of unemployment and poverty.

He said the population of all African nations was equal to the population of China, which has one of the finest Gross Domestic Products (GDPs) due to innovations in agricultural mechanisation.

“We have a problem with demographic and climatic change, flooding and erosion. Besides, 80 per cent of our produce, especially tomatoes, is getting wasted because of poor preservation system. In fact, it is a known fact that at present, Nigeria has the highest rate of food wastages in the world.

“The recent ban of rice importation in Nigeria is good but it must be matched with needed local production. Otherwise, we will suffer greatly for food in this country. We should also note that we will not feed the increasing population with knives and hoes of the Stone Age Technology,” Ngadi said.

The expert urged Nigerian agricultural engineers to design and develop more equipment for local food production and processing.

He called for an atmosphere that would be conducive for modern agricultural practices to thrive and veritable governmental policies for a private sector-driven food production system.

Ngadi said Nigeria should upscale its food production, processes and practices.

The international expert added that “a pull and a push” approach should be embarked upon in the nation’s food innovation strategies.

“There is a connection between innovation and the GDP of any nation. Therefore, in Nigeria, it is either we innovate now or die of hunger later. We need improved technologies in tillage facilities and maximise the irrigation practices. We must produce affordable technologies to link farmers with processors and consumers. This has been successfully done by Hondurans.”

Ngadi, who said unlike agricultural principles, which are transferable, innovations are peculiar with the innovators.

He added that Nigeria, with its largest cashew production capacity in the world, could build strong agricultural technologies around the fruit and its seed.

Source: The Nation

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