Fourth-year students of agricultural-related programmes (B. Agric courses) at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, MOUAU, have gone for the 2016/2017 academic session industrial work experience, a key requirement for successfully completing their programmes and obtaining their degrees.
Students embarking on and gaining industrial work experience (before graduating) is a directive of the National Universities Commission. At MOUAU, the Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme, SIWES, oversees the placement of students at work places, as well as monitors their progress and completion.
SIWES offers students hands-on entrepreneurial and agricultural skills acquisition aimed at boosting food security through practical agriculture, ultimately guaranteeing financial freedom.
The Chief Technical Officer, College of Crop and Soil Science, SIWES section, Mr. Peter Nzem, said the sense of commitment and the zeal with which students embrace industrial work experience and the possibility of turning the knowledge garnered from it into productive agriculture is commendable.
Ifeanyichukwu Prince, the general course representative of SIWES, gave the progress SIWES has made thumbs up and revealed that MOUAU agriculture majors plant leafy garden egg, water leaves, scent leaves, cucumber, amaranthus, carrot, dwarf paw paw, lettuce and cabbage, all of which are suitable for mild temperatures. He said the idea behind planting temperate crops (such as cabbage and lettuce) is to show that with proper agronomics temperate crops can adapt and thrive in the tropics.
He lauded their courage in choosing agriculture as their course of study in a country where the youth are much more interested in white-collar jobs than “getting their hands dirty.” Prince, however, expressed dissatisfaction at MOUAUs management inability to provide water pumping machines and other equipment students need to undertake dry season farming effectively, precipitating him to lead a procession (of agriculture major students) through the university to the administrative block where students chanted:
‘The oil well is dry! Agriculture is the real deal!” The students showed off some of their freshly harvested vegetables as they protested.
The personal assistant to Vice- Chancellor Francis O. Otunta met with the protesting students. He lauded their courage in choosing agriculture as their course of study in a country where the youth are much more interested in white-collar jobs than “getting their hands dirty.”
Meanwhile, the fresh produce the chanting students exhibited caught the eyes of some of the administrative staff and they came down in their numbers to purchase them from the students.