A Role for the University of Ife in Increasing Agricultural Production

Duncan, E. R. (1974-04-30)

THE history of man is essentially a story of his attempt to feed himself. For those who accept the Bible literally, man has been talked by hunger since leaving the Garden of Eden. For those who prefer to follow man and his struggles by other routes, it is obvious that he has been faced with the spectre of hunger since his very beginning. Most of the great and small wars have been fought to gain or assure territory so that man could eat and live with some degree of assurance of security. Michener's fascinating novel, The Source, traces a single family through thousands of years and shows its civilization beginning with a domesticated food supply. Sabloff in The Patient Earth, attributes the fall of the classic Maya civilization to the pressures of over-population on available food supplies. The great potato famine in Ireland in the 1800s resulted in millions of the Irish immigrating to the United States. Periodic famines in India, China and more recently in the sub-Sahara have claimed millions of lives. Ironically, in man's efforts to assure himself food he produces large families which mitigate against the very solution he seeks. A relatively minor deviation in weather today may result in widespread hunger, starvation and be a severe drain on the economies of the nations concerned.


My purpose in presenting this paper is to voice concerns about the production of food in relation to existing and expected needs, about present population trends, and to suggest that the University of Ife can play a significant role in this drama. My qualifications to discuss this segment of agricultural and economic development may not qualify me as an authority in Nigeria, but hopefully may justify an expression of my concern