Animal Science Dept, NIAS Sensitise Stakeholders at Farmers' Forum

Agricultural stakeholders have emphasised the need for government and students to adopt farming as a way of escaping the current challenges of unemployment and poverty in the country. This call was made at the 1st Rivers State Farmers Forum organised by the Department of Animal Science in partnership with the Nigerian Institute of Animal Scientists (NIAS). The event which was held on November 29, 2022, at the Faculty of Agriculture Conference Room, was attended by the Vice Chancellor, industry stakeholders and students of the Faculty.

Speaking at the event, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Owunari Georgewill who was represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic, Professor Kingsley Owete, described Animal Scientists as critical stakeholders in the survival of a nation. “You are very important stakeholder in our contributions to food security. This is the reason we are discussing with the Dean on ways we can support the Faculty for more for gains,” he said. Commending the Faculty for the initiative, the Vice Chancellor assured them that Management will look forward to the outcomes of the forum in a bid to implementing the recommendations that will advance the cause of the Faculty and the university at large.

In his welcome address, the Head, Department of Animal Science, Dr Brilliant Agaviezor, said the forum was aimed at addressing the challenges of livestock farming in the state. He informed participants that the event was deliberately put together to bring key players such as academia, farmers and other industry practitioners for productive conversations. Dr Agaviezor further expressed optimism that recommendations made will lead to research and policy engagements.

In his remark, the Rivers State Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Fred Kpakol, represented by the Head of Livestock in the Rivers State Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs Adaobi Oputa, said the Rivers State Government will adopt the resolutions from the forum. The Commissioner, who encouraged farmers in the state to register with the state government, noted that “the state currently has 1,480 registered farmers.” He also stated that many farmers miss out on “grants, aids and subsidies due to their lack of official registration status.”

Kpakol who urged farmers to stop the attitude of running to government only when they have challenges, declared that the ministry operates an open-door policy and would be ready to provide technical support to genuine farmers in the state. On the efforts of the state government towards sustainable farming , t h e Commissioner informed participants that the state government had concluded plans to establish a Modern Hatchery, Feed Mill and Modern Abattoir in designated locations in the state.

On his part, the Dean of the Faculty, Professor Ibisime Etela, stated that the forum was carefully planned to make up for the 2022 annual 'Agric Day' event which could not be held due to the protracted nationwide industrial action left the University closed for months. He explained that the 'Agric Day' celebration is an event to showcases the rich potentials of the faculty. The event he said is “usually planned to coincide with the World Food Day which is held globally on October 16.”

Delivering his keynote address, Sir Lucky Osime of the Poultry Association of Nigeria, urged farmers to indulge in “best practices to save the environment from further degradation.” He bemoaned the attitude of some farmers, whom he said, “are contributing to increase the risk of cancer and other diseases such as birth defects, arising from use of certain chemicals in raring animals”.

In a goodwill message, the Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Mrs Titidola Clyne, commended the Department for the initiative, charging the students of the Faculty to start seeing themselves as employers of labour.

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