The hosting of the Yam Roasting Festival by the University, to commemorate the annual harvest of new yams, has been described as a veritable mechanism of promoting and enhancing the Town and the Gown community relations.
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Olusola Oyewole, stated this during the 2015 FUNAAB Yam Roasting Festival, held at the Directorate of University Farms (DUFARMS) premises. According to him, “We started this tradition of new yam festival many years ago in this University and suddenly the tradition stopped”, while lauding the support of a foremost industrialist and philanthropist, Chief Olusegun Osunkeye, for his support and encouragement in the resuscitation of the festival in 2012.
The Vice-Chancellor said the University’s mandate did not end only at training students, but by ensuring the overall development of the University, as well as those who relate with the institution. He added that FUNAAB was committed to the development and sustenance of the environment. He described the significance of the venue of this year’s event as very strategic, saying that it was done to create awareness about other crops that the University produces, apart from yam. “For the first time, we are organising this year’s festival not on the outskirt of the farms, but right within the farm for people to know that it is not even yam alone that we deal with”. The Vice-Chancellor, who is also the President, Association of African Universities (AAU), said that the University was not only noted for teaching and research activities, it also runs an Industrial Park Unit (IPU), where the institution’s raw products are processed.
Speaking at the occasion, Chief Osunkeye, who is also the Chairman, Board of Directors, Nestle Nigeria Plc, said that he was passionate about the University and what it stood for. Reminiscing on the existing collaboration since 1988 with his 900-hectare farm situated in Kaduna State, he noted that Soyabean seeds were taken from his farm and planted in the University in a bid to boost crop production. Chief Osunkeye recalled that he once delivered the University’s 10th Anniversary Lecture, as well as the 4th and 5th Convocation Lectures, saying the University exists for the advancement of humanity, as he further corroborated the Vice-Chancellor’s remarks that encouraged fostering the Town and the Gown relations between the University and its host communities.
He challenged the University on the need to market the displayed products in the open market, saying that all the exhibited products should not be confined to the shleves.
Chief Osunkeye also decried the menace of cattle-rearers, who destroy agricultural farms, as he called for an end to the scourge. He charged the University to explore the possibility of using drones to monitor its territorial farmlands and engage in negotiation with those concerned, for amicable resolution of any conflict that may arise. He also suggested that the cattle-rearers should be integrated into the farming system by earmarking certain passage areas on the University map for their use.
In his own remarks, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council of the University, Senator/Sir (Dr.) Adeseye Ogunlewe, called for better understanding and collaboration with members of FUNAAB communities, charging the University to concentrate more efforts at establishing linkages with industries in order to create better awareness on what the University could produce for the public. Senator Ogunlewe, a former Minister of Works in the country, suggested that the University should convene a joint committee with the Ogun-Oshun River Basin Authority (OORBDA), Abeokuta, to promote sustainable linkage opportunities.
Highpoint of the event was the formal presentation of yam tubers, savouring of smoked yam with ‘bush-meat’ and the inspection of farm products on display. Present at the event were members of the University Governing Council, Principal Officers, Deans, Directors as well as Heads of Departments and Units. Others were the Managing Director of the Ogun Osun River Basin Development Authority (OORBDA), Engineer Akintunde Soyemi; General Manager, Paramount FM 94.5, Abeokuta, Mrs. Kemi Ajayi; among others.