By Ginika Okoye and Chimaka Ubabuko
Abuja – The Federal Government has directed Federal Universities of Agriculture across the country to establish colleges of nutrition and medical sciences in their institutions.
Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, gave the directive during a meeting with members of the governing councils of Federal Universities of Agriculture in Abuja on Tuesday.
The minister said that the revival or establishment of the colleges was necessary to improve the health status of the citizens and reduce the growing cases of ailments in the country.
According to him, most of the ailments we suffer in life have to do with what we eat or fail to eat.
“One area in which we will give you increasing support is the area of nutrition. I know some of you already have schools of medical sciences.
“You may have to re-designate these schools of medical sciences as schools or colleges of nutrition and medical sciences.
“We don’t eat well in Africa. We eat too much carbohydrate and pay less attention to vitamins and proteins, and so most of the life expectancy issues we suffer have to do with our diet.
“Even the way we grow and process our food; the fertilisers we apply, the harvesting, the storage and packaging methods; all of them have very serious consequences on our lifestyle.
“Nobody is better placed than university professors and teachers to teach the rest of us how to eat and how not to eat.
“This is a very big subject that I will like you to work on and those of you who already have the colleges in their institutions should revive them immediately and get them working,’’ the minister said.
Besides, the minister directed that every undergraduate in the universities should own a viable farmland in the institutions; right from the 200 level of study till graduation to make the venture practical.
Ogbeh said that the Federal Government did not have any intention to cancel non-agriculture courses or expel those students who were not studying agriculture-based courses in the institutions.
He, however, called on the universities to promote seed development and research activities to boost their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
Responding, Mr Lawal Zayyana, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Board, Micheal Okpara University, Umudike, assured the minister that the council would strive to promote the agriculture agenda of the government.
However, Dr Aboki Zhawa, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Board, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, underscored the need to amend the Act establishing the universities.
Zhawa was reacting to the transfer of the universities from the ministry of education to the ministry of agriculture, following a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We need more universities of agriculture in this country to promote agriculture as a profession.
“There is need to amend the Act establishing the universities to harmonise some of the changes and the provisions of the Act,’’ he said.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Federal Government in February 2017 transferred the three Federal Universities of Agriculture in the country from the ministry of education to the ministry of agriculture for effective supervision. (NAN)