Gov. Seyi Makinde of Oyo State on Thursday inaugurated the pilot scheme of an agribusiness training programme for secondary schools in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the initiative, ‘Start Them Early Programme (STEP)’ , was evolved by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.
NAN reports that the programme is to promote interest in agriculture and learning among secondary school students.
Speaking at the inauguration of the pilot scheme at Fashola Grammar School, Fashola, in Oyo West Local Government Area, Makinde said the effort was significant in reviving the practice of modern agriculture by his administration.
The governor said the initiative would ensure that young people learn agribusiness in theory and practise it right from secondary school.
Makinde said secondary schools in the past engaged students in practical agriculture.
He said his administration was determined to revive agriculture practice in secondary schools, saying “it is time to borrow a leaf from the old days when passion for agriculture practices was dominant.”
The governor stressed that the pilot scheme being inaugurated would expose youths to careers in agriculture that they never knew existed.
“Apart from exposure to career in agriculture, they (students) will also be given the needed direction to pursue this career.
“One of the challenges facing agricbusiness 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,” he said.
He said the picture was that of ” an old man or woman bent and tilling the ground with a hoe or weeding with a cutlass.”
The governor added that this was why an initiative such as STEP was very important.
He noted that the availability of modern agricultural inputs with the use of computers and other facilities would encourage students to stay in rural areas instead of migrating to cities.
Makinde asserted that it was time to teach “our children the business of agriculture.”
In his address of welcome, Dr Chrysantus Akem, IITA Coordinator of Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), said the initiative was to advance agribusiness development in secondary schools in Africa.
Akem said the programme aimed at producing youth multi-millionaires through agri-business had commenced in the three African countries of Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria.
He said two tonnes of high quality variety maize seeds and 100 kilogrammes of aflasafe product used to control aflatoxin in maize would be donated by IITA to the state government.
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