By Adeola Badru
AS a step towards ensuring food security and combating hunger in Oyo State, Governor Seyi Makinde, on Thursday, disclosed that his administration would remain steadfast and resolute in the pursuit to grow the state’s economy through agribusiness venture.
This, the governor said, would prevent the rural and urban migration of youths from the state.
Makinde, made this known, at the launch of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)’s Agribusiness Training Programme for secondary schools in the state, tagged: “Start Them Early Programme (STEP),” an agribusiness facility at Fasola Grammar School, Oyo.
The training is to promote interest in agriculture and learning among secondary-aged children in the state.
The governor hinted his administration’s efforts towards reviving the practice of modern agriculture in the state.
He said the initiative would ensure that young people learn agribusiness in theory and practice it right from secondary school, thereby helping the secondary school students to increase their interest in the agricultural profession.
Makinde recalled that secondary schools in years past did engage students in practical agriculture, having school gardens and poultry farming.
He said his administration was determined to revive agriculture practice in state secondary schools, saying: “It is time to borrow a leaf from the old days when the passion for agriculture practices was dominant.”
He stressed that the pilot scheme been inaugurated would expose young minds to a career in agriculture that they never knew existed and that the project would be extended to other areas of the state.
“Apart from exposure to a career in Agriculture, they(students) will also be given the needed direction to pursue this career.”
“One of the challenges facing agribusiness is that in most part of Africa, the picture that comes to mind when we talk of agriculture is not a young man sitting in his office looking at a computer.”
“But that of an old man or woman bent and tilling the ground with a hoe or weeding with a cutlass, and this is why initiative such as STEP is very important.”
He noted that the availability of modern agricultural inputs with the use of computers and other facilities would surely encourage the students to stay in rural areas instead of migrating to urban cities, saying that discouragement of rural-urban migration is part of his administration plan.
Makinde asserted that it was time teach “our children the business of agriculture, disclosing that his administration had leveraged on agriculture to grow through its various agricultural programmes and policies which would open up the state to direct investment from both foreign and local in agriculture.
He added that his government is open to ideas that would change the perception of young ones towards agriculture.
He thanked the IITA’s management under the leadership of its Director-General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, for its contributions to the development of agriculture in the state.
The governor noted that the project would not have been possible without the vision of the DG while assuring to work with the agricultural institute.
Earlier in his address of welcome, the coordinator, Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), Dr Chrysantus Akem, who represented IITA’s Director-General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, noted that the facility in Fasola would be used to engage a selected number of students and teachers and train them on modern agricultural technologies and production.
His words: “The reason for the facility is to have students of this school to become multi-millionaire because they have embraced agriculture as a business.”
“The partnership we have formed with this school, with the teachers and students is thoroughly showing in the mindsets change about seeing agriculture as a business.”
“We are aware that the Oyo State Government through its Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agencies has developed the Oyo State agribusiness programmes.”
“A programme that will support the domestication and scaling of this project in Oyo State.”
“The state and the youths in agribusiness training centre when expanded all over the state, would stimulate the agricultural transformation of the state and create jobs for thousands of youths,” he added.
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