Written by Emmanuel Edukugho
NIGERIA Vanguard - Apapa,Lagos, 23 October 2008
Three cassava processing factories and sixteen micro processing centres have been established across the state, to add value to cassava for maximum ...
Kwara State Governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki, at Ogbomoso, received the Presidential Award of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) for Excellence in Agriculture and Food Security Initiatives at its 32nd Conference/AGM, holding in Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), which began on Tuesday and ended on Thursday, 16th October, 2008.
Kwara State Governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Food scientists and technologists drawn from universities and polytechnics in the country, scholars, food manufacturers, ministries of agriculture, agencies, research organisations and students are attending the three-day conference, declared open by Osun State Deputy Governor, Erelu Olusola Obada, representing Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
“National Sovereignty cannot be guaranteed unless we are able to harness all our resources to feed ourselves without importation from any country. Food is an important factor that guarantees sustainable peace in any nation.
The effort we are making in Kwara State is to encourage massive production of all crops and to also produce meat, milk and fish to improve protein intake of our teeming population,” Saraki said.
He explained that he was receiving the award not for personal reasons but because of seeing the road to Nigerian food security as a collective task before us all. Also that the effort of Kwara State government which he is privileged to head is one of the many contributions required from all and sundry.
Saraki paid tribute to the efforts of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology “whose interest is not only to harness the abundance of talents and knowledge among food professionals in Nigeria towards food security and safety, but also to serve as Vanguards for discouraging all forms of food adulteration and smuggling.”
He recalled how he started the back to farm programme because the only resources in abundance in Kwara was land and the able bodied unemployed youths.
Saying the most important lesson got from the programme was that it was more profiting to encourage private sector participation rather than investing government funds in direct provision, “this vision took me to the commercial agricultural project, using the experience of our Zimbabwean partners as the launching pad.”
The Kwara governor disclosed that commercial agricultural project had proved itself to be a viable option for sustainable growth. In all, 13,000 hectres of land is dedicated to the first phase of the project, achieving massive crop production on annual basis.
“Both skilled and unskilled workers are being employed by the farmers and this is gradually uplifting the living standards of the people at the rural areas. Out of the thirteen farmers, there is no single farmer that has less than 50 workers in is employment.”
To secure the future, Integrated Youth Farm Centre has been established in which the youths are trained on the modern techniques of mass crop production and empowered eventually to become medium scale farmers.
Three cassava processing factories and sixteen micro processing centres have been established across the state, to add value to cassava for maximum advantage to farmers and check cassava glut.
Saraki said the award of Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology will spur him to do more as agriculture holds the key to our national growth.
Dedicating the award to “our young successor generation farmers across the nation, our hope for the future,” the Commissioner for Agriculture, Kwara State, Professor Isa Mohammed received it on behalf of the governor.
In her welcome speech, Osun Deputy Governor, Erelu Olusola Obada promised government maximum support to the institute, assuring that they should count on Osun government for financial assistance.
Outgoing National President of Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology, Mrs. O.A. Adesokan, said she has consulted with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole on giving a charter status to the institute. The Speaker promised to fast track the Bill for the charter.
She drew attention to the fund raising efforts of the institute in which Oyo State has made donation and appealed to other states to do same.
Adesokan named Professor Ngoddy as the first Fellow of the Institute and commended Dr. Adewale Obadina, a lecturer in Bells University of Technology, Department of Food Technology for being one of the seven young scientists chosen from all over the world to the 14th World Congress of Food Science and Technology in China.
Professor Bamidele Solomon, Director-General, National Biotechnology Development Agency, Abuja, delivered the keynote address on the conference theme: “Challenge of Research and Development for Food/Nutrient Security and Agro-Industrialisation”.
Vice Chancellor, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Professor B. B. Adeleke, is host of the conference, while chairman of the Governing Council was represented by Chief Adeyemo.
Oyo State Commissioner for Education, Professor Lawore, represented Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, the chief host.
Prof. Isaac A. Adeyemi, Vice Chancellor, Bells University of Technology, Ota, 1st National Vice-President will assume leadership of the institute after the conference.
Certificates were given to some private companies including UAC Foods, Nutricima, Tasty Fried Chicken, for their support and contributions to the food industry.