Agricultural and Bioresources Engineering

The world’s population is expected to grow from 6 billion today to at least 8 billion by the year 2025. And most of this growth will take place in the developing world including Africa. It is therefore clear that expanding agricultural production in a sustainable manner will be crucial in responding to these challenges. Complex problems ranging from the development of sustainable systems for the production of food, fiber and renewable energy, to the scale-up of products of new discoveries in biology and biotechnology will require engineering solutions. These solutions must be developed in the context of globalization and the prevailing role of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), while at the same time ensuring local relevance and the protection of the environment. This is aimed at producing 21st – century engineers that are well equipped to tackle these challenges in the context of the philosophy, “think globally; act locally”.
The primary objectives are to train engineers who will function in one or more of the following roles towards national self-sufficiency:
(i) To increase and sustain agricultural, aquacultural and/or forest production;
(ii) To manage the natural resources such that a high level of production can be sustainable without damage to the environment;
(iii) To maintain or change the natural characteristics of food and biomaterials for suitable purposes;
(iv) To remove or reduce the physical drudgery in production operations, and;
(v) To provide desirable amenities for communities of producers, usually rural.

Establishment and Initial Development
Established in 1962, UNN Department of Agricultural Engineering is the oldest in Nigeria. Started and developed by academic personnel from Michigan State University (M.S.U), the Department benefited from the best of the land grant philosophy of many of the bigger and better known American Universities, a philosophy that found optimum expression in their Faculties of Agriculture. So, at the beginning under the Headship of Professor J.O Boyed, the Department together with the Department of Agricultural Mechanization was based in the Faculty of Agriculture for administrative purposes while, at the same time, it was based in the Faculty of Engineering for its academic regulation and administration. As a result of this arrangement, the Department was very well equipped as it had free use of direct responsibility for maintenance and repair of all the agricultural machinery and equipment in the Farm Operations Unit of the Faculty of Agriculture. To facilitate the discharge of that responsibility the Department was provided with a very well equipped Fabrication Workshop, a Carpentry/Farm Structures Workshop and a Farm Power and Machinery Workshop in the Farm Operations Centre. Similarly, with the first two years of the five-year programme being the same for all the Departments of the Faculty of Engineering, students of Agricultural Engineering Department took the foundation engineering courses and the workshop technology courses in well furnished mechanical engineering workshops, civil engineering workshops/laboratories and electrical engineering workshops/laboratories.

The Department therefore, had a very solid foundation and, until 1966 enjoyed steady growth and development under the combined efforts of the MSU team and the Dutch-Technical-Aid academic personnel, headed from 1964 by Dr. B.F. Cargill (Late) of MSU. All the seven or eight academic staff at that time were expatriates the first Nigerian academic staff, an assistant lecturer, was employed in October, 1966. At that time, three other Nigerians were away in U.S.A. doing their M.Sc. /Ph.D. degree work as staff-in-training.

The department produced its first set of Agricultural engineering graduates literally on the eve of the Nigerian civil war in 1967. The expatriate staff had been compelled to leave some days before the graduation ceremony when the situation in the country had worsened to a point where the expatriates felt threatened. In fact the graduation ceremony for the first indigenously trained Nigerian agricultural engineers took place at night and was the last official public event of the University at UNN before the civil war erupted.

Post Civil War Era
At the end of the hostilities in 1970, it was heartbreaking to observe that all the previously accumulated teaching and research equipment in the different laboratories and workshops had been completely ruined; the carcasses of some are still there as sad reminders. The department with the rest of the University had to pick up bits and pieces from the ruins and devastation of the three-year civil war. Of course, the expatriate staff did not return. But undaunted, the Department struggled to re-establish itself and succeeded admirably in doing so.

For logistic and other reasons, the Agricultural Mechanization Programme was discontinued in 1970. Agricultural Engineering Department came to be based wholly in Faculty of Engineering, administratively, academically and physically. But the department retained its facilities in the Farm Operations Centre. It has also retained the good relationship with the Faculty of Agriculture such that use of the machinery, equipment and facilities of the Farm Operations Centre are readily made available for its teaching/research uses as needed.

The Department has continued to produce graduate agricultural engineers every year since 1970. Agricultural engineers trained in the Department are found in every sizeable establishment in Nigeria that needs the services of agricultural engineers – Ministries of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Institutes, private and publicly owned food companies and agro-industries, agricultural machinery sales and services companies, the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanization, Universities, Polytechnics, etc. In fact, our graduates are today playing leadership roles in many of these establishments. There are few Agricultural Engineering Departments in the country which do not have our graduates as members of their academic staff. Fourteen out of the currently seventeen members of the Department’s own academic staff are graduates of the Department at either B.Eng or M.Eng level, or both.

The undergraduate student enrolment of the Department has varied between 180 and 200 in recent years. The objective is to stabilize at a population of 250, i.e. 50 students per year of study, on the average.

The Department offers a 5-year B.Eng degree programme designed to give students a firm foundation in the discipline. In the first two years of the programme, study concentrates on the engineering sciences common to all engineering disciplines. From the third year onwards, discipline specialization courses are introduced. This finally leads to students, in the final year of the programme, taking courses with emphasis on one of the following options:
(i) Power Systems, Machinery and Forest Engineering
(ii) Soil, Water Resources and Aquacultural Engineering
(iii) Food and Bioprocess Engineering
(iv) Structures and Environmental Quality Engineering

Entry Requirements
Candidates who have passed the W.A.S.C. (with credit) or General Certificate of Education G.C.E.(Ordinary Level) or Senior School Certificate Examinations in 5 credits including Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and English Language in not more than two sittings may be admitted into the five-year programme through the U.M.E. entrance requirements.
Applicants who have passed the Higher School Certificate (H.S.C.) (Principal Level) or G.C.E. (Advanced Level) in Physics and Mathematics, with Chemistry (at Ordinary or Advanced Level) in addition to other University minimum entry requirements, may be admitted into the four-year programme as direct entry students.

The Curriculum
Stress Areas

Power Systems, Machinery and Forest Engineering

Soil, Water Resources and Aquacultural Engineering
Food and Bioprocess Engineering
Structures and Environmental Quality Engineering
Computers and Information Technology
Seminar and Special Problems

Service Courses
The Department offers service courses to the Faculty of Agriculture students in the 3rd and 4th year and to the students of Faculty of Engineering in the 1st year.


The M.Eng and Ph.D degree programmes of the Department of Agricultural and Bioresources Engineering are guided by the awareness that the achievement of self-reliance in Nigeria agricultural and rural development depends largely on the effective development of the indigenous agro-technological manpower and resources. This is more so when it is realized that the stimulation of the agricultural sector of the national economy had always been accorded high priority in the past and present development plans in Nigeria.

The postgraduate programmes of the Department are therefore a conscious attempt by the Department to discharge its educational and professional responsibility of the nation in its efforts to revive the agricultural sector. The programmes are to fulfill this role by furthering the effective application of appropriate engineering principles and technology to the Nigerian agriculture. The postgraduate programmes of the Department are highly technical in content, practical in their orientation and dynamic in perspective.

The objective of the programmes therefore include the training of productive and technological manpower and highly trained professionals, to execute the production phase of agriculture; the production of field and research equipment suitable for local applications; the conduct of pure and applied research required for accelerating the growth of the agricultural sector; and to participate in the training of agricultural engineers, technologists and technicians for Nigeria Universities; Colleges of Technology and Schools of Agriculture.

The graduate courses cover all areas of Agricultural and Bioresources Engineering: Farm Power Units; Field Equipments and farmstead Units; Irrigation; Drainage; Erosion Control and Utilization of Water Resources; Food Product processing; Storage; Packaging and Handling; Farm Structures; Livestock and Environment; Electrical and Solar Energy Utilization and Computer Technologies in Agriculture.

The study for the degree of M.Eng in Agricultural Engineering is done by course work with research work to be presented in a project report. The study for the Ph.D degree is by a comprehensive research to be embodied in a thesis. The M.Eng and Ph.D students may specialize in any of the following areas: Power Systems and Machinery: Soil and Water Engineering; Agricultural Products Processing and Storage; or Farm Structures and Environmental Control.

Successful graduate students are well equipped with sufficient background and training to enable them to go into the ministries of agriculture, food and agro-industries machinery companies; Research institutes and universities; internationally aided agricultural projects requiring indigenous agricultural engineers with sufficient knowledge of local conditions.

Entry Requirement
Master of Engineering Degree (M.Eng)
Applicants must possess B.Sc or B.Eng degree with at least a second class honours of minimum GPA of 2.5 on a 5-point scale, or an equivalent qualification, in Agricultural and Bioresources Engineering or a related field of Engineering to qualify for admission into the M.Eng programme.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree (Ph.D)
Candidates must possess M.Sc or M.Eng degree with a GPA not less than 3.5 on a 5-point scale from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Applicants who already possess a master degree at the same level of pass from recognized institutions may be considered for entry to the Ph.D programme.

Mode of Study
Master of Engineering Degree (M.Eng)
The M.Eng programme is by course work to be examined in written papers together with research work to be presented in a project report, where course work predominates over research and constitutes not less than two thirds of the total credit hours.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree (Ph.D)
The Ph.D degree programme is usually prosecuted by comprehensive research to be embodied in a thesis. No credit hour is assigned to the PhD programme. Candidates are required to present at least two seminars.

Masters programme
Full Time: A minimum of 3 semesters
A maximum of 6 semesters
Part Time: A minimum of 4 semesters
A maximum of 8 semesters

Ph.D programme
Full Time: A minimum of 4 semesters
A maximum of 10 semesters
Part Time: A minimum of 6 semesters
A maximum of 14 semesters


Graduates can find employment in the following institutions, companies and industries:
i. Government -Â Federal and state Ministries/Departments of Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment, Energy, Mines, Natural Resources (Land and Water), Rural Development, Science and Technology, town/LGA engineering divisions:
ii. Engineering consulting firms;
iii. Companies – Food processing, irrigation and drainage design and component manufacturing, farm machinery engineering component sales, chemical/fertilizer/feed, tyre manufacturers;
iv. Educational – Teaching/lecturing/research – universities, polytechnics, colleges of science/technology/agriculture, research and training institutes and centers;
v. Financial institutions – Banks and Agricultural credit institutions;
vi. Industries – Fisheries, surface/subsurface survey, biotechnology firms, greenhouse and horticultural, solar energy technology and other renewable energy industries; goods manufacturing for water pollution control, air pollution control, solid waste management, measuring and monitoring instrumentation, scientific/research/laboratory equipment and chemicals;
vii. Services provision sector – Waste handling and environmental facility operation, environmental pollution/impact assessment, laboratory related field services, facilities design for natural resources conservation and protection, and for aquacultural and forest production.