The Africa Centre of Excellence for Food Technology and Research (CEFTER), Benue State University (BSU), Makurdi, has been described as a good example of support from the top management of an institution. Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Rasheed, who made the observation when he visited the Centre, recently, said the Commission fully acknowledged the dedication and support of the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Msugh Moses Kembe and the University Management to CEFTER.
Professor Rasheed congratulated both the University and the Centre “for doing so well, so far, in this Project”, urging them to continue to do their best for the Centre. One of the three ACEs with focus on Agriculture, CEFTER was rated among the top five of the first set of 19 ACEs in West and Central Africa, in terms of results achieved so far, by the World Bank. Professor Rasheed remarked that the Centre is relevant and on a very good trajectory. The Project, he added, was well-conceived, considering Benue State’s status as “The Food Basket of the Nation”, and it’s potential to make a lot of impact on its immediate community, the country and sub-region.
According to him, the issue of post-harvest losses was fast becoming a topic of international discuss. The Centre must, therefore, rise to the challenge by not only producing new knowledge, but repackaging the old as well. He reminded his hosts that CEFTER was the first major attempt at understanding the problem of post-harvest losses and even though the problem may not be solved within the next one year, for example, there was enough reason to be hopeful.
While commending the founding fathers of the University, for building one of the most developed, yet emerging state universities in the country, the Executive Secretary, however, charged the Centre to avoid being “too BSU and too Food Technology.” Rather, he said, “You can do better. Open up this Centre. Raise its profile. It is regional and has the potentials to be truly international. The resources are there and the goodwill is there. The success of the Centre is a collective success for all of you.”
Earlier in his welcome remarks, Professor Kembe thanked the Executive Secretary for the visit and NUC for its support for the Project. He disclosed that he had been part of CEFTER right from its conception and would continue to give it his utmost support. He gave a brief progress report which covered the accreditation of the Centre’s programmes such as, MSc./PhD. Food Science and Technology, MSc. Bio Statistics, MSc/PhD. Post-Harvest Physiology of Crops, MSc./PhD. Food Chemistry and MSc. Post-Harvest Management. Others were; MSc./PhD. Food Processing Technology, MSc./PhD. Physical Chemistry, MSc. Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology, MSc./PhD. Rural Sociology and Agricultural Extension.
The Vice Chancellor also reported the admission of a total of 273 students, 214 of whom are enrolled in M. Sc programmes and 59 in PhD programmes. Giving a breakdown of enrolled students, Prof. Kembe stated that the Master’s class had 204 national and 10 regional students. Of the 204 national students, 71, are females, while 4 of the 10 regional students are females, drawn from the West & Central African Sub-region. For the males 133 are national, while six are regional students.
A more detailed progress report was presented during the interaction with staff and students of the Centre, by the Deputy Centre Leader/Project Manager, Dr. Barnabas Ikyo. Among others, he disclosed that 207 of the Centre’s 273 students were benefitting from one form of financial or support or the other. They were either on fully-funded scholarship, part-tuition or part-accommodation support. The Centre Leader, Professor Daniel Adedzwa, other Faculty members and officials of the Centre as well as its partner institutions and students, attended the interaction along with Principal Officers of the University.
On the Executive Secretary’s entourage were the Director, Executive Secretary’s Office, Mr. Chris J. Maiyaki, ACE Project Coordinator, Dr. Joshua Atah and Communications Officer, Mrs. Adebukola Olatunji.
Executive Secretary, NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed with the Vice-Chancellor, Benue State University, Prof. Msugh Kembe
Prof. Kembe, in a chat with Prof. Rasheed and Director, Executive Secretary’s Office, Mr. Chris Maiyaki