FUNAI SPONSORS STAFF TO SONGHAI FARM, PORTO-NOVO
In a bid to run a functional and practical-oriented Faculty of Agriculture geared towards equipping students with hands-on knowledge and entrepreneurial skills to make them employable and employers of labour on graduation, the Federal University Ndufu-Alike recently sent two of its staff on a tour of the Songhai farm located in Porto-Novo, capital of Benin Republic.
The essence of the tour was to study the internal workings and dynamics of the popular integrated zero waste operating system farm in order to replicate same in the university. The Director, Centre for Entrepreneurship and Employability, Professor Chinyere C. P Nnorom and Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, Dr. Christiana Igberi were sponsored by the university management to the farm to have a firsthand experience in order to proffer ways of transferring such technologies to the university.
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chinedum Nwajiuba had on establishment of the Faculty of Agriculture vowed to run a different kind of Agriculture programmes, where students are imbued with functional knowledge and practical skills to make them productive on graduation. He therefore charged the faculty board to ensure that students were made to go through the rudiments of practical farming so that they can learn by doing.
Consequently, the Faculty of Agriculture embarked on school farming, cultivating cucumber, pineapple and rice, and marketing of the produce; thus availing the students the opportunity to go through the necessary practical experience in crop production and agribusiness.
Speaking at the end of the tour, Igberi noted that the Farm operates three major groups of activities namely Production Vegetale, Production animale and Pisciculture, adding that the three are interconnected and interdependent for the farm’s sustainability.
In her words: “Each one develops its product to value addition stage including outlet for marketing. However, at the end, the by-products of all the three are harnessed to generate energy for use by the entire farm and the environment.”
She continued: “It is of interest to know that from nursery production to processing (value addition), marketing to consumption, no product is wasted, hence the name zero waste. The different sections housing several items are purposely connected together for the singular aim of utilizing both the processed and the by-products.”
She further revealed that the Farm is willing to collaborate with the University in replicating their farming technology and model in the university, which according to her were natural, simple and cost effective and could be easily adopted. And thanked the Management for the exposure they gained through the trip.
Adding her voice Nnorom stated: “The vegetable production supply feed for the animal production while the animal dungs and poultry droppings together with vegetables and other plants are used to prepare compost manure used to grow crops such as maize, cucumber, cowpea, soybean, pawpaw etc. The vegetable and animal sections are also used for fish production.” She also stressed that at the end the vegetable, animal and fish productions are transformed to generate bioenergy for the farm and its surrounding.