The Senate, Wednesday, passed for second reading a bill seeking for the establishment of a Federal College of Agriculture in Obot Akara Local Government Area.
The Upper Legislative Chamber said the institution when established would not only address the educational needs of the people of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, but also serve as a research and training centre for the development of agriculture and agriculturists in the country.
The Federal College of Agriculture (Establishment) Bill 2021 is sponsored by Senator Chris Ekpenyong (PDP), (Akwa Ibom North-West).
Ekpenyong, while leading the debate on the bill, which was read for the first time on November 10, 2021, said: “Over 80 per cent of the people in the district are involved in agriculture, hence a major reason to establish an agricultural institution to promote and enlighten the indigenes and Nigerians as a whole on current best practices in the sector.”
The lawmaker said that the College of Agriculture through agricultural education, training, research, and development could have a direct impact on poverty reduction by increasing farm productivity, subsequent increase in food supply, creating employment opportunities for both skilled and unskilled labour, and reducing the cost of food crops due to availability.
He added that the institution, when established, would help to accelerate the agricultural growth rate, enhance the income of farmers, transform educational infrastructure yield quality agricultural products, and generate employment opportunities in the sector.
According to Ekpenyong, “It is clear that investing in agriculture is the way forward and creating more agricultural institutions in order to train and develop competent human capacity should be a priority.
“Agriculture is extremely important as a source of livelihood. In Nigeria, approximately 70 per cent of the population engages in agricultural production at a subsistence level.
“Agriculture with its allied sector is unquestionably the largest livelihood provider, more also in the rural areas and can contribute significantly to the gross domestic product (GDP). Agriculture is the largest sector of the Nigerian economy and employs two-thirds of the entire labour force,” he stressed.
The bill which received wide support from distinguished senators was referred to the committee of tertiary institution/agriculture for further legislative input to report back in four weeks.