SPOTLIGHT on Professor Matthew Banji Oyun

Date: 16 January 2018

Related Project: Capacity Building for E-Learning Network on Food and Nutrition Security with Partner Universities in Eastern Africa and Europe

Matthew Banji Oyun, Professor, Department of Forestry and Wood Technology, Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA)
Professor Matthew Banji Oyun lives in Akure, Ondo state in Nigeria. He is a Lecturer in the Department of Forestry and Wood Technology at the Federal University of Technology, Akure(FUTA).  His area of specialisation is Agroforestry with a focus on soil fertility management. He has over 15 years of post PhD Teaching and Research experience in various aspects of Silviculture and Agroforestry and has published extensively in both local and In   international journals including peer reviewed conference proceedings.

The Project and its relevance?
The main purpose of the Capacity4food project was to develop targeted activities in Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) for food security at local level with a view towards increasing the capacities of the Higher Educations Institutions (HEIs) in sustainable food production.
The main action of the project, which  targeted HEIs in Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Gambia and Sierra Leone, included the following:

  • Analysis of the situation which provided an in-depth insight regarding ISFM toward food security.
  • Creation of the Centres of Excellence (CoE) in ISFM and capacity building targeted to the staff of the centres through organised trainings which were then multiplied and open to Universities and stakeholders in agriculture.
  • Networking events which brought together HEIs staff and students with local farmers during National matching events to promote graduate employability through direct meetings with farmers and local researchers.
  • Networking also involved Regional round tables which brought together government representatives, University teachers, farmers NGOs, Researchers from Research institutes and students with the aim to influence future priorities for legislation in the Agricultural sector that will prioritize ISFM.

The capacity4Food is particularly relevant in my country because it provided the singular opportunity for the very first time for coordinated research in ISFM and via the project, the technical activities of ISFM were disseminated to all stakeholders particularly students and local farmers. The project thus provided a window of opportunity for capacity building to train the trainer on ISFM for enhanced knowledge and technical performance. The project also afforded me the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues both in Africa and Europe. The project is very important to the African sub region because soil is the basis for sustainable agriculture. A near total reliance on either mineral fertilizer or the organic fertilizer sources alone has proved ineffective over the years, therefore Africa is still faced with multifaceted problems of hunger, poverty, malnutrition and disease which are all related to poor and unsustainable agricultural productivity due to the poor soil fertility status.
The project has also enhanced collaboration between Africa and Europe.

How did you become involved?
I participated in the first Edulink project between 2008 and 2011. Then we already formed a consortium in Africa with collaboration with the University of Alicante in Spain. When the present call was made, it was an opportunity to build on and strengthen the existing collaboration. However in the first Edulink AFOLM project , I was contacted through the African Network for Agroforestry Education (ANAFE).

The Project and your role?
I have been involved right from the proposal stage of the project, where I suggested the project title and provided the concept note for the proposal. During implementation, I coordinated the project both locally and regionally. I organised and presided over local and regional meetings, trainings, demonstrations to farmers both in the field and at the Centres of Excellence (CoE). I facilitated networking with stakeholders in ISFM which included Agricultural institutions, NGOs, commercial and local farmers outside of the University. I also oversaw the establishment of the CoE in ISFM and the purchase of field equipment and other facilities (furniture items) at the CoE.

What are your expectations from the results?
So far, my expectations according to the proposed plan of action and outcome of the project including impact has been fully met.

Have you identified any impact to date?
Personally, the project has improved my professional skill and knowledge regarding ISFM. It has also enhanced my collaboration with colleagues both in Africa and Europe. The project has improved my skill in international project management and fund raising capacity. My livelihood has also improved through the project. The project has also enhanced my professional status and strengthened my curriculum vitae. Travel is education; I have gained experience through travels both within Africa and in Europe. Above all, the project provided a lasting legacy of the CoE in ISFM which will be used to sustain the training of local farmers in ISFM principle and practices.

Any Impact at national and or regional level?
Colleagues in the University have benefited from the project through the training and participation in ISFM activities both at the local, regional and international levels. The students benefited from various forms of field training and demonstrations using the field equipment of the CoE during regular practical sessions and the final student project. The demonstration plot established by the CoE in ISFM is now a permanent experimental plot for student projects that relates to soil fertility management. The local farmers and the youth farmers group are using the baby plot for training and demonstrations for ISFM practices. Through them other farmers are being trained in ISFM practices. Wider dissemination of ISFM is underway through the farmers’ congress and hopefully, with anticipated funding from the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, a National workshop is being planned. The CoE FUTA through a student project formulated integrated fertilizer for vegetable farmers' group and we are receiving encouraging reports on the yield and nutritional quality of the vegetable produced on their farms using the integrated fertilizer formulated.

Throughout the life of the project, the policy makers in the relevant ministries were engaged and were carried along with the progress of the project. After every regional meetings and training, the National matching event will be held and the representatives of the policy makers and technocrats from the Ministries of Agriculture and water resources were involved. Round tables sections were also held with them about the actions of the project.

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