By; RAYMOND TEDUNJAYE, Lagos.
Lagos State Government has said that participants of its Lagos Agripreneurship Programme (LAP) would henceforth be exposed to a three-month internship with an existing farm or facility to enable participants gets a firsthand experience of the agricultural process.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya disclosed this today when she paid a courtesy call on the Batch IV of the Lagos Agripreneurship Training Programme at the Lagos Agricultural Training Institute, Araga, Epe.
Olusanya explained that the three-month internship would further help the budding agripreneurs to get a better grip of all they would have been taught during the one-month training at the Institute.
According to her, apart from the training experience at the Institute, especially for those who had no background in agriculture, the internship would help to widen their horizon of the agricultural space as well as learn from the success and mistakes of these companies.
“We know that there had been issues in the past when past participants had complained that they come into the programme, they are trained and then they leave and nothing happens afterwards. We understand that there is always a dearth of resources. When I say dearth, I mean scarcity, paucity of funds. What that means is we have private sector participants who are doing big in the Agric space who need people like you to come in and work with or partner with them.
“This is why we need to commence the internship structure. Apart from having the training experience here, especially for those of you that don’t have any clue about agriculture, to also now have another three months internship program with an existing company or facility, it actually augurs well for you because in terms of the collaborations you get to make, partnership, and the learning experiences that you get to have, I think it will serve each and every one of you very well.
“It is the same way in all institutions in the world; when you go to school, you must go for internship to practicalize what you have learnt and afterwards you’re issued your certificates or whatever the benefits that there are. So that is what this training is going to be about going forward,” Olusanya asserted.
The Commissioner charged the participants not to despise the power of networking and collaborations even amongst themselves as trainees stating that after the training programme, they could form a group of two or three with a view to partnering in order to start their own agriculture businesses.
She noted that economy of scale matters a lot in the agriculture sector which translates to more partners made in terms of the scale, scope and size of the business, the more possible it is to actually succeed, survive and have a sustainable business.
Olusanya noted that if participants can build partnerships and structures, it would be easier for the State Government to get access to funding and support for them in terms of the linkages with the likes of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the World Bank and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector.
“I plead with you; the same way we go to business schools and they tell you that the advantage of going to business school is not necessarily about the academics but the networking, make sure you develop that network in this space as well. Don’t leave here the same way you came in by yourself and exit by yourself, make friends, keep in contact, share information, share knowledge, share your experiences, as you go on internship, come back together afterwards, share that learning as well.
“And it’s not just about that, we are also trying to ensure that in terms of the linkages we have with the likes of CBN, in terms of the various schemes and interventions they have, especially around financing, that we as a State can get that access for people like you.
“The idea is in terms of what we have with regards to supply and demand in Lagos, being the State with the largest population, the truth of the matter is, we need to be more food secure. Most of the foods we eat, they actually come from other places over 90 or 80% if I’m being a bit pragmatic 80% comes from outside of Lagos, we are the state with the youngest population. When I say youngest population, in terms of the number of youth we have, we are number one. Why are we not the ones producing the food we eat? Even if not all, to a reasonable extent,” she said.
The Commissioner charged the participants to make themselves ambassadors of the Agripreneurship Programme by letting others know about agriculture and the many opportunities that exists therein.