By; Raymond Tedunjaye, Lagos.
The Lagos State government is set to engage 48 secondary schools to benefit from the School Agric Programme (SAP), as part of efforts to increase its food production and empower the youth with cognate knowledge in agriculture.
The Commissioner for Agriculture Hon. Toyin Suarau who disclosed this during a meeting with school principals, vice principals and agricultural science teachers in the state at Alausa, said agriculture is the only sector that can engage a lot of youth and it is pertinent to make it more attractive.
He said the government is ready to produce Agropreneurs in the various agricultural value chains such as poultry, aquaculture as well as crop production.
According to Suarau, the purpose of the project is to train students in modern farming methods, as well as further stimulate the interest and awareness in agriculture among students in public senior secondary schools in the state.
The Commissioner disclosed that presently 52 SAP projects have been established in 48 schools across the state and government is set to establish additional 39 in different value-chains to make up 91 agricultural projects in Lagos public schools.
He said that the 2016 financial year has provided for 39 SAP projects in 39 schools out of the 48 schools that have been benefiting from the programme, explaining that six schools will be empowered in poultry inputs, another 5 with fisheries inputs and the remaining 28 with vegetables inputs.
“The development of both practical and commercial skills in agriculture need to be promoted with the aim of empowering students with cognate knowledge of agriculture to compliment the theoretical aspect taught in the walls of the classrooms”, the Commissioner said.
He stressed that SAP project aim at ensuring that the students’ future involvement in agricultural activities is guaranteed as the farming population is now growing old.
“The result of this aging population is low productivity, low adoption of improved technologies and poor modern input utilization”, he emphasized.
He revealed that Lagos has a large demand-supply gap for agriculture products and therefore requires a younger farming population with the ability to improve food production in the State.
Suarau further stressed that, the state produces only 10% of its food demand and the target is to increase the aggregate internal food production to 25%. He said that the SAP project and other youth empowerment programmes will contribute to food production and security in the state.
“Apart from keeping the youths off the street by channeling their abundant energy towards productive agricultural ventures, the SAP projects will also ensures the effective utilization of our green areas and unused spaces within public secondary school and assist the schools in their income generating activities”, Suarau said.
He however urged the teachers to make good use of the opportunities provided the schools by these projects, adding that this will make the students see agriculture as a business and not as subsistence.
He said it is the desire of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode led administration to ensure food security and an enabling environment for the people to have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to maintain a healthy life.