FUTA Hosts Sweet Corn Fiesta, Targets Food Security
The Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA in collaboration with Harvestfield Industries Limited and Biospheric Scientific (Nigeria) Limited has hosted its first Sweet Corn Fiesta celebrating and encouraging the consumption of locally cultivated sweet corn as a means of strengthening the nation's food security agenda. The sweet corn comes with succulent texture and can serve as ready alternative to imported canned sweet corn since it can also be preserved in subzero temperature through refrigeration. The sweet corn seed was developed in Thailand and successfully grown on FUTA farm under the supervision of Professor Ahmed Balogun of the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science through a collaborative effort with Harvestfield, the importer of the seed, which asked FUTA to undertake educational pilot project on the seed.
Balogun said having watched the rate of consumption of food crops in the nation he felt the need for Nigerians to be self-sufficient rather than spend resources on importation of sweet corn hence the infusion of agropreneurship in the department's MET 213 course through the collaboration . He said the major focal point of growing the sweet corn seed imported from Thailand was to give students an understanding of how climate risks affect agricultural productivity. He noted that agropreneurship would go a long way in providing jobs rather than having every qualified candidate wait for white collar jobs. He disclosed that the fiesta would become an annual event to reward excellence and encourage students to develop and sustain interest in agropreneurship. Professor Balogun said the fiesta would help to create awareness on the gain of locally cultivating sweet corn for food and economic benefits which outweigh importation.
Declaring the fiesta open, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Joseph Fuwape who was represented by the Dean, School of Earth and Mineral Sciences (SEMS) and Chair, Committee of Deans, Professor Pius Enikanoselu said he was excited to be part of the event coordinated by a Professor in the University and geared towards sustainable Agricultural production. He called on leaders of SEMS to fast track collaboration between SEMS and the School Agriculture and Agricultural Technology (SAAT) to intensify efforts to bridge the gap of food insecurity. Fuwape praised the dramatic application of theoretical knowledge displayed by the department of Meteorology and Climate Science towards the successful cultivation and harvest of sweet corn. He further lauded the commitment of the students involved and pleaded with the department to follow the initiative to logical conclusion, rather than allow it join the list of abandoned projects in the nation.
Acknowledging the initiative and hard work invested, the Head Project Monitoring Office, of the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending ,NIRSAL , an arm of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development ,Mr. Aluko pointed out that the event was a step in the right direction. He analyzed how Nigeria spent huge money on food alone daily, pegging Lagos at 1.1 billion naira daily. He therefore postulated that all Nigeria needed was to produce more food to derive more income. He further made monetary pledge for the sponsorship of the fiesta to encourage students and urged them to take the opportunity of being handed a skill as a life time endowment.
In his speech, the representative of Bioshperic Scientific (Nigeria) Limited, Mr. Adeniyi Balogun commended the University for creating receptive environment for research and was ecstatic about the partnership with FUTA.
Presenting goodwill messages, the duo of Professor Emmanuel Okogbue, Director, Center for Continuing Education, CCE and Professor Taiwo Amos, Dean, School of Agriculture and Agricultural Sciences, SAAT who was represented by Professor Adekayode congratulated the department of Meteorology and Climate Science reiterating the need to form strong partnerships with CCE and SAAT to get to the next level. They appreciated that the jinx of food insecurity was being broken by the awareness to return to food production and hoped that government would in no time get involved and contribute to encouraging young people.
The fiesta featured competitions and rewards for the department that produced the best corn in the school, maintained the best plot and best overall ear produced. The fiesta attracted stakeholders, guests and participants from in and out of the University.