Winner Emerges at Maiden edition of Agri-Competition in Lagos

Living by his name, Destiny Edoro from Gbagada Senior Grammar School Lagos was destined to emerge the overall winner of the maiden edition of ‘Start Them Early Programme’ STEP School Agri-Competition in Lagos.

The event which was organised by the Innovative Youth in Agriculture (I-Youth) Project, in collaboration with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and supported by Lagos State government was designed to create awareness about the viable agricultural opportunities for all public senior secondary schools in Lagos State.

It was also meant to redirect their aspirations towards careers in modern Agriculture.

The event also has David Joshua of Comprehensive Senior High School Alapere who came second, while Asokere Misimau of Ajara Comprehensive Senior High School, Badagry emerging third position.

Twelve students from various public senior secondary schools qualified for the final stage of the competition after competing with 479 other students from 260 public senior secondary schools in Lagos State.
The event which brought together stakeholders and partners who are key to advancing agriculture and agribusiness by showcasing the technologies and solutions within the agriculture ecosystem and the education sector was held at Airport Hotel, Lagos.

Essence of STEP
The Executive Manager, I-Youth Project, Mrs. Aline Mugisho said that the whole essence of the program was to activate a process of changing the mindset of the youths about Agriculture as a business that can bring development.

Mugisho explained that the program was meant to create a dignified and fulfilling employment for the young people and expose them to technology, research and innovations that would enable them to harness the opportunities in Agriculture.

She stressed that the competition was very important because people have forgotten Agriculture and the need becomes imperative to involve them by letting them realise the immense benefits therein.

Mindset change“Beside the competition, we are also doing a mindset change of the youths about Agriculture to ensure that the society change their mind about the way they view Agric business.

“Because we are on a mission to let people know that Agric goes beyond food, it is a serious business that has so many streams that can be considered in the process.

” No mathematics and other subjects will sink into our mind unless there is enough food in our stomach. And ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you something that is profound. And it’s a reality check. The world is running out of food. And Africa is the only place where food cannot be short. We cannot run out of food. We have good waters. We have good land. We have good, young and vibrant people who are going to work on that land. And today, by being here, you have made a commitment to be part of that bigger dream.

“And the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture IITA has for the past decade has invested a lot of time in building the young people and ensuring that they don’t only acquire the necessary knowledge but they are exposed to technologies and innovations and research that allows them to tap into agriculture from different streams and sectors including engineering, technological development, seed system and great other areas. The innovative youth in agriculture has invested in younger youth for a very strong purpose. And that purpose is because we believe that the future begins today. And the future cannot be built unless the young people who will make it happen.” she said.

She appreciated the State Ministry of Education for taking priority in Agriculture by ensuring that, like Mathematics, Science and other subjects, Agriculture also has a place in school curriculum, while she promised to use her institute to continue supporting the young people in Nigeria and to connect them to the young people across the continent.

She said that would build the new generation of innovators and agribusiness Agripreneurs and intrapreneurs.

STEP Program according to her, is not only happening in Nigeria, “we also have it in Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya and we hope to implement the same program across the continent because school are the areas the work need to start with.” she stated.

She further explained that winners of the competition would secure Enterprises that would be developed within the school, while contestants were also expected to receive technological devises and some STEP donation to the schools.

Agric and competition
The Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo, who was represented at the event by the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Abayomi Abolaji, stated that the State remained committed to using its instruments to harness the opportunities derived in modern forms of Agriculture through educating the youths on its importance as a veritable part of the economy.

Adefisayo said that one of the ways which knowledge and understanding of Agriculture can be inculcated in the students at this age is through competition and the State government is conscious of the nexus between Education and Agriculture.

“The title of the competition itself is of great importance, in the sense that over the years, government at different levels, particularly even at the federal level, have always been touting the need to go back to agriculture. Not just for us to have food sustainability but to also see us around me as to diversification. We have always for years relied on petroleum and we have seen where that has taken us to, because government has realized that and so as already has been calling for a visit to the back to the past, into the past, So, for us to therefore, take a step back and refocus our energy in agriculture.

And again, you know, we have been talking about modern agriculture such that with minimal piece of land, we can still grow crops, vegetables, fruits. So, the focus on the youth is not misplaced. It is the right step in the right direction and we are open to welcoming them to expose our students to modern form of agriculture.”

Recharting a course
Also represented at the occasion by the Director Agric Services, Mrs. Ayoade Abiola, the Commissioner Ministry of Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, said that the program was aimed at re-engineering, recharting, redirecting and encouraging youths in Agriculture as government enhanced its alliance through the Agro-processing, Productivity Enhancement and livelihood improvement support APPEALS Project in Lagos State.

She noted that the program has been encouraging which has increase the level of investments and the empowerment of women and youths in the agricultural sector, with the aim at increasing food production, creating employment opportunities, alleviating poverty, as well as boosting income generation of the State.

“In Lagos, the appeals project has boosted the activity of no fewer than 17,400 farmers 3,950 Regular farmers have also benefited from the projects directly while about 1,786 women or youths have also benefited. In addition, 7,533 farmers have been trained, while the beneficiaries of the appeals projects are men between the ages of 18 to 40 years and women between the ages of 18 and 55 years. Apart from this last year, 1000 youths were trained in a five-week intensive training program on the use of coconuts waste in arts and crafts on the waste to wealth initiative, this is in line with the State governments developmental themes agenda of making Lagos a 21st Century economy as well as contributing to the tourism potentials of estates.”
” As part of the World Food Day Program, which comes up every October. The ministry organizes agricultural schools quiz competitions annually for students in the state’s public secondary schools based on the above it can be clearly seen that the Ministry of Agriculture has provided different platforms for youth engagements through training, capacity building and empowerment in different agricultural value chains, contributing to job creation, youth empowerment and poverty alleviation. The Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture is delighted to be part of this laudable program, today’s laudable program, and it’s very much because the program itself is very much in line with our aims and objectives.”

Urban migration
The event which was hybrid, had the Deputy Director General, Partnership for Delivery, IITA, Kenton Dashiell, who also acknowledged a challenge to have youths move into agriculture as many had moved to the urban areas looking for jobs and opportunities, stressing that the competition was meant to assist the students to learn more about the opportunities that abounds in Agric-business.

Dashiell who spoke virtually said through its partnership and collaborative actions with various partners across Africa, IITA has developed technologies that have provided farmers in the continent with several innovations, which its interventions have promoted food and nutritional security/safety, increased food production, raised the yield of major food crops, reduced poverty levels, and decreased postharvest losses.

The Winner of the competition, Destiny Edoro thanked the organisers for seeing the future of Agriculture through their participation and for believing in them.
Edoro who applauded other contestants for thier doggedness and efforts wished to become an Agric economist.

Lateefah Ibrahim
Winner Emerges at Maiden edition of Agri-Competition in Lagos

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