By Edwin Nwanojuo
A Fertilizer company, OCP Africa and the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria on Wednesday, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to boost Maize production in the Kaduna state through providing fertilizer, seeds, funds and extension services to farmers.
The MoU which targets 5000 farmers in communities in the environ will have 15 postgraduate students of the university who would be trained by OCP Africa as extension officers.
“The approached us as faculty, requesting that they are interested in boasting Maize production in Nigeria and want to use some areas in Kaduna state and they felt they should do that in the campus, and they have chosen ABU as pilot.
They are going to make use of the Post graduate students, they students have started the training program”, the Dean Faculty of Agriculture, Professor Olufunmilola Alabi said.
The Country Manager of OCP Africa, Mr Caleb Usoh while signing the MoU at the office of the Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, said the company decided to use universities for the project following the robust departments of Agriculture and access to land which some universities enjoy.
Mr Usoh further said that if the the project was successfully executed in universities, it would spur the interest of the students towards engaging in agribusiness after graduation.
“We reckon that many of the universities have very robust agriculture faculty and they also have access to land, so instead of keeping those land their, probably we can engage with the school to use those land to farm, and tap knowledge from the faculty of agriculture to train and offer extension services, by that the students are a bit away from only academics and books to the practicals.
“I think that if we do that it will also spur their interest in agriculture as a business so that beyond graduation, they could also see opportunities to take career in agriculture, so that’s why we are doing what we are doing in Agribooster Campus Offer, and we chose your institution as a pilot to start this”, he noted.
He said the students would be equipped with tools and knowledge on agriculture extension, while about 5000 farmers are targeted within the communities to boost their maize production.
“We are targeting 5000 farmer community to reach out to within the environ, and also 15 of your students we will act as extension training partners, they will be equipped for that, we are going to expand on this as the year go by.
“The knowledge we get from this will be replicated in other universities. Beyond this, we are also looking towards other opportunities for collaboration with the school that can spur agribusiness”, Mr Usoh added.
While receiving the delegates, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Ibrahim Garba said the school would play its own role in assisting OCP Africa in achieving the target.
He urged the company to always approach the school whenever they are in need of partnership that would drive development in the agricultural sector.
“The university and the immediate region is a very well known agrarian environment, much of what we do in our small ways under our Micro Finance Bank and our Institute for Agriculture Research, we are doing it in our small ways, so what you brought in is to help us boost it and have mutual benefit”, Professor Garba said.