At Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), Agricultural Science is given a pride of place. The focus on the course is not just because it is one of the pioneer faculties in the university but because of its strategic place in the Oye/lkole axis of Ekiti State. The location of the Faculty at lkole is therefore instructive. The faculty of Agriculture at Ikole used to house the former offices of the old Ondo State and now Ekiti State Agricultural Development Project (ADP). If one suggests that the FUOYE Faculty of Agriculture draws from a rich tradition which predates the establishment of the university, it will not be far from the truth. Popular opinion at the Faculty runs thus: we are the most important faculty in this University and the faculty is as old as the university.
In fact, the Dean Faculty of Agriculture Prof. Olusegun Oladimeji amplified this view: “There is a strong sentiment among faculty members that FUOYE was conceived because of this Faculty, and that the location of the Faculty of Agriculture at Ikole was not a mere coincidence”.
The immediate past Dean of the faculty, Prof. Akin Omotayo, said the agricultural revolution in the faculty started small. We started with a small farm, which hopefully will develop to be the university’s teaching and research farm in due time. We started with a crop farm on maize and cassava. We did one hectare of plantain and we acquired about 5.5 hectares of oil palm from ADP”. The palm fruit was harvested and processed into the now popular FUOYE palm oil.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Isaac Uzoma
Asuzu, echoed similar sentiments when asked his views on the on-going revolution at the faculty. “What the Faculty of Agriculture is producing is still at its pilot stage. Plans are on the way to evolve effective and sufficient market for the produce. Having said this, the Faculty of Agriculture is one that l am looking at as a major source of income for this university”.
One may then ask, Why Faculty of Agriculture in a young university such as FUOYE”?
Agriculture has been described as an entity just like a human being with head, body, arms, and legs. It has components, which are inter-related. For instance, Soil Science cannot be meaningful without Crop Science. Crop Science is useless without Food Science.
Agricultural Science as a faculty in FUOYE has seven distinct components with each component representing a department. Therefore, we have the following departments:
ii. Crop Science and Horticulture
iii. Animal Production and Health
iv. Fishery and Aqua-culture
v. Water Resources Management and AGRO- Meteorology
vi. Agricultural Economics and Extension
vii. Food Science and Technology.
A closer look at the activities of the Faculty in this young university reveals a lot of achievements and high points to buttress their claims, Even though they are still at an infancy stage – barely over three years, they have recorded some remarkable achievements that belie their age, the Dean of the Faculty was modest in accessing their activities. Hear him: “We are barely three years old, we can only talk of what we hope to achieve”. Among the things they hope to achieve is what he describes as ‘sustainable agriculture.
According to him, sustainable agriculture is aimed at empowering farmers and providing them an enabling environment to maximize the usefulness of their harvest through preservation. For instance, attention will be paid to cocoyam, plantain and related perishable produce, including fruits that need processing. There is also the value-addition angle to agricultural produce to enhance the economy of the local farmers, Part of the strategy is to transform agricultural practice in this area, by evacuating excess produce to markets outside the locality. This reduces wastage to the barest minimum, It is no exaggeration to say that every season, the percentage of wasted fruits like banana, orange, mangoes and the like far outweighs what farmers get to sell.
In furtherance to this concept of sustainable agriculture, over 250 hectares of land have been earmarked for fruits and livestock. This will be preceded by soil survey for site selection. This process is expected to generate necessary information for decision-making on what types of soil are available and the kind of fruits or plants to deploy there for maximum yield.
Unique Selling Points: “Unique” relates to environment where you operate. Attention is being paid to things that are matchless here relative to the surroundings. The Faculty of Agriculture, and by extension, FUOYE, wants to be identified with arresting wastages, raising agriculture to a noble venture, and providing employment. It also intends to add value to agricultural produce in its environment, whether produced by the university or by its host communities. The aim is to, for instance, transform palm oil to export level. Cocoa has been drifting at the international markets. Its price is low because of quality as a result of the variability in the small farmers. These variables affect quality. A central fermenting facility where all cocoa farmers bring their produce for uniform fermenting to have uniform quality will abate
these drifting prices and enhance the capacity of local cocoa farmers to do more. This kind of situation falls into the long term plan of the Faculty.
“We are barely three years old, we can only talk of what we hope to achieve”
The Faculty has 156 undergraduate students as at 201 2/2013 academic sessions, with high quality teaching staff; the highest quality compared to older universities. There is high optimism that they will not only pass course accreditation by the Nigeria University Commission (NUC), but also be highly commended.
Income generation is a global practice in universities. The FUOYE Faculty of Agriculture is actually ahead of its peers in this regard. The sustainable agriculture policy is its vehicle to drive Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). The plan to emerge income spinners involves production of raw materials, which in turn are processed in order to fetch raw cash. The Vice Chancellor affirmed this position in a chat with the Innovatel. According to him, The University Senate has approved the programme of sustainable agriculture for the faculty to embark on crop and animal production, as well as all other kinds of agricultural practice that will generate income. What we mean is this; they will not only serve as sources of research for our staff but also