By Lawrence Olaoye
President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday flagged-off the National Schools Agriculture programme, aimed at encouraging youngsters in secondary schools across the country to get interested in taking agriculture as a vocation.
According to him, the primary goal of the programme was to build technical and entrepreneurship skills in the students, to run agriculture as a business, equip school leavers with practical life skills, create jobs for themselves and to enable the youth develop a positive attitude towards agriculture.
Its first phase, a School Agri-business Club (SAC), is to be established in selected schools from 12 states of the federation across the six geo-political zones. Each club will comprise 120 students.
The programme, he added will also focus on food/vegetable production, horticulture, aquiculture, poultry, apiary, livestock, production, small scale irrigation, nutrition, processing, and packaging, and entrepreneurial skills for members of the SAC.
Jonathan stressed that his administration places high premium on the young people and this accounted for the programme aimed at catching them young.
He pointed out that one of the challenges faced in the sector is the ageing population of the farmers, which have consequently made the young people see the profession as an occupation for the poor and less-privileged.
“Farming is a white-collar job, but the approach is what is wrong” he said.
On the choice of secondary schools in the programme, the President noted that statistics have shown that the second school system provides the highest education for Nigerians.
About 4,400 students, spread across the country, will be involved and about half a million youths will benefit from the programme.
Also speaking at the event the Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina said food is also one of the biggest money-making ventures in life, hence the need to bring in the young people into the business.
Recalling that Nigeria was the first in the world to implement the e-wallet system, he said the World Bank has agreed to scale up the programme.
“This further strengthens our resolve to modernise agriculture” he said, adding that “all the schools will be duly registered under the e-wallet GES system”.
The Education Minister, Ibrahim Shekarau also noted that school wasn’t only about reading and writing or just acquiring knowledge but also being exposed to the activities outside the world.