UNIMAK Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences

By | May 1, 2020

University of Makeni UNIMAK Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences

UNIMAK Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences – Check below:

As a result of the desire and aspiration to satisfy one of the most important human development needs (especially food), the University of Makeni (UNIMAK) has factored into its programs the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences.
Since the inception of the Faculty in 2012, there are now 30 students (25 Males and 5 Females).
The Faculty has been run alongside the University of Milan in Italy whose professors are co-lecturing with the local staff in Sierra Leone and other parts of the world. More than 15 Professors and 12 local staff have participated in lecturing in this Faculty since its inception in 2012.
The Faculty has an information laboratory with computers and internet facilities. It is working on the establishment of Science laboratories in its Faculty of Agriculture building at the UNIMAK Fatima Campus on the basic sciences such as Chemistry, Biology and Physics.

Our lecture methods
Most of the Faculty lecturers use power point presentations using slides prepared and powered by overhead projectors as their most common lecture method.
Students are encouraged to work in groups to do homework assignments, term papers and class work given to them; and they using slides in giving group presentations.
Agricultural field activities cut across all the departmental courses with both students and staff being able to relate theory to practice. This helps students to create links between theoretical knowledge to practical skills and technique acquisition, thus generating appreciation in them of what they learn as useful entities in their everyday life.
The strong practical orientation of students in the field of Agriculture for the degree and diploma programs has created positive motivation in the minds of students to respect and appreciate Agriculture as a dignified career like all other careers in their lives.

Current Faculty engagements
During the 2014/15 academic year, the Faculty has been able to establish projects in piggery (currently with 15 pigs), Pisciculture (2 fish ponds with 3000 cat fish), and horticulture (with 2.5 hectares of vegetable crops).
The Faculty has also developed the diploma curriculum in Agriculture as a subtle means of bringing onboard those candidates who cannot get the 5 credits for the degree program. The diploma program creates means of training the middle man power needed in Agriculture that can be engaged in the practical production and processing of products for sale or consumption.

The establishment of 33,000 fruit and forestry trees nursery site is in progress, with the view to provide practical learning and teaching arena for both students and staff of the Faculty.
The creation of possible source of seedlings for farmers that would like to embark on permanent plantation farms in the country is a key rationale for the establishment of the nursery. It can also serve as a regular source of income for the University; indirectly teaching students to realize the relevance of Agriculture as a business.

What next in the Faculty
Tying up these activities with research work will enable us discover some integrated method of production through the network use of agricultural resources with minimal cost. For example, the dung of the pigs could be used to feed the fish in the fish ponds, whilst there would be Fertigation, wherein fish ponds provide irrigation and fertilizer to the rice cultivated downstream (see photo attached). At the same time the by-products of the vegetables could be used to feed the pigs in the near future, moreover, the rice bran would be utilized to feed the pigs in the piggery.

Such an integrated agriculture approach (IAA) if well-established and carefully planned can be used by our local farmers because it has Low cost, Low environmental hazards and High yield returns (LLH), in short IAA for LLH (IAA 4 LLH).
We are yet trying to properly develop this system of production at our field site in the Yoni campus using the local resources available.
The use of minimal mechanization shall also be encouraged as we have to plough, harrow and even use irrigation machine (water bailing machine-3” type) in some parts of the site to enable us increase the acreage and compare the relative advantages with the manual labour.

Challenges and Wish list
1. The establishment of laboratories (such as Soil science, Crop Science, Pest and diseases, Animal Science, Agricultural Mechanics, etc.) are yet to be carried out.
2. Capacity building of local staff members for the Masters and PhDs in key areas (such as Soil Sciences, Animal Husbandry, Agriculture Engineering {water, mechanical, farm structures, etc.}, Agricultural Economics, and Crop Science), is of high premium for the Faculty.
3. Strategies or means to attract the attention and action of young people into Agriculture through the provision of facilities such as scholarship schemes for undergraduates programs, Agricultural start-up packages for young graduates, Agricultural loan schemes to young graduates and community youths (to form a network of illiterate or semi-illiterate and literate farmers; creating a possibility of experience, techniques and skills exchange platform to improve productivity) are some of the crucial .demands in the country which this Faculty aims to address.
4. Providing research grants for the Faculty to be able to carry out research work together with the students and the communities.
5. Support extension services between the University and the communities to enable the active and productive transfer of knowledge, skills and techniques in Agriculture and its related entities. For example, the introduction of the IAA 4 LLH to the community as a possible strategy to improve Agricultural production and the maintenance of the environment sustainably.
6. Engaging professional external or international staff on short, medium or long term engagements based on the needs and available resources therein.

Dr. Joseph B. Tholley
Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences.

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