Covenant University and its sister institution, Landmark University, have resolved to team up with a leading global cloud technology and cognitive solutions organization, IBM, in the establishment of an AgricTech (Agricultural Technology) Centre of Excellence in Nigeria.
The initiative is designed to make agriculture attractive to young people and to equip and train them to become employable and productive in agriculture.
This much was revealed on Friday August 19, 2016, during a teleconference meeting between the Managements of Covenant University and Landmark University and representatives of IBM held inside the conference room of the CU Vice-Chancellor, Professor AAA. Atayero.
The Chief Scientist, IBM Research Africa, Dr. Uyi Stewart, had in his address to the gathering said the journey started by IBM four years ago was to bring research and research capability into the African region. The main focus now, according to him, is to discover new ways for service delivery to help governments in West Africa.
He said his outfit had proposed collaboration with Landmark University in the area of agriculture, and this would include a third partner, PZ Wilmar, which has 30, 000 hectares of oil palm plantation in Cross River State.
Dr. Stewart, who revealed talks are being held with the World Bank on funding, said his vision for the planned collaborative effort is to achieve something transformative using the concept of agriculture, with young people discussing the challenges of small scale farmers and tackling them with unique Nigerian solutions, which could be exported.
Earlier on, the University Relations Leader for West Africa, IBM, Mr. Chinedu Onuoha, who expressed happiness that both CU and Landmark Universities share IBM’s vision, said his organisation wants to train students, take them on internship and “we believe that we can tell customers that CU and Landmark are where you can find the skills”.
Some management staff, both on the Covenant University and Landmark University sides, subsequently, took turns to respond to presentations made by the IBM team, with the Dean, College of Engineering, Covenant University, Professor Christian Bolu, disclosing the existence of a project with students on using sensor technology and urged Dr. Stewart to start something which could be useful to the success of the project. Also, the Dean College of Science and Engineering, Landmark University, Dr. John Oyediran, who described IBM’s initiative as wonderful, said the use of sensors should not be limited to determining issues with farmers and getting the right co-ordinates and calibrate to get the right yield, but actually using sensors to monitor the safety of food stored in silos.
In her remarks, the Vice-Chancellor, Landmark University, Professor Aize Obayan, said Landmark, being the premier agriculture university in Nigeria, is looking at the totality of agricultural development. “It is our belief that Dr. Stewart’s ideas are good to work on. Let us see the one we can drive independent of government and also, propose to government what they can do teaming up with the private sector. On the issue of funding, let us not be scared about what the two universities can muster. And from the Landmark context, it’s not a green area, extensive work has been done; we invite you to come and we take it from there,” she said.
The Vice-Chancellor, Covenant University, Professor AAA. Atayero, on his part, believes the idea proposed by IBM “is one whose time has come”. CU, he said, already has an Internet of Things (IoT) cluster, which would go mainstream by the year 2022; and by that time, the university would be graduating students to handle the sector.
Professor Atayero promised that the two universities will synergise on the proposal to ensure its execution. “They have the land; we can deploy sensors to get data at Landmark. Everything is coming together at the right time.”