The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Schools Agriculture Programme, Dr Baraka Sani has disclosed that a total of 1,776,000 household members is expected to be impacted by the Federal Government through the Presidential Initiative on Schools Agriculture Programme.
The presidential aide made the disclosure at the stakeholders’ consultative forum held in Abuja to harmonize strategies and brainstormed on the ways to sustain agriculture development in secondary schools as part of the effort to re-awake the interest of young Nigerians in agriculture business.
According to Sani, the expected outcomes of the programme at its conclusion will see about 1,850 students agriculture clubs established, 222,000 beneficiaries of these clubs would have become equipped with vital ‘skills for life’ while the multiplier effect on 1,776,000 household members would be recorded.
The programme, with an expected life span of five years, 2014-2019, designed with an exit strategy and the institutional mechanisms to ensure sustainability on the state levels will also ensure that all schools agriculture clubs, SACs are linked with umbrella associations for further development, major market and financial institutions. She added that upon graduation from school, member students of the SACs have the capacity to establish agro-businesses, integrated into the mainstream transformation agenda as skilled agribusiness men/women as well as help ensure change of perception regarding agriculture.
The programme will also ensure better understanding of one another through friendship thus promoting unity, hopefulness/ increased confidence of students, which will further promote patriotism, while the students would have also assumed better leadership roles.
According to Baraka Sani, the pilot scheme will commence in 12 states of the federation with two states from each geo-political zone, including the FCT. The selected states are FCT, Plateau State, northcentral; Bauchi State, Gombe State, northeast; Kaduna State, Kano State, northwest; Ebonyi State, Enugu State, southeast; Akwa Ibom State, Bayelsa State, south south; and Ogun State, Oyo State, southwest. Each state will be required to present three secondary schools, one from each senatorial zone. The schools will in turn establish the schools agriculture clubs (SACs) which will have a membership of a maximum of 120 students, comprising minimum of 10 students from each arm.
The students, between JSS1 and SS3 will be encouraged to focus on horticulture (vegetable production), aquaculture, poultry, foods and nutrition, environmental protection (awareness campaign, tree planting programme and conservation of natural resources), processing and packaging, apiculture training for honey production, livestock (fattening), entrepreneurial programme for members of the club and leadership training.
The programme, according to Dr Sani, will in line with the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, help to address prevailing development challenges and persistently high unemployment rates, thereby contributing immensely to Nigeria’s march towards becoming one of the 20 largest economies in the world by the year 2020. She added that the programme has, as one of its core pillars, the potentials to create decent jobs in sufficient quantity to resolve the protracted problem of youth unemployment and to reduce poverty. It will also help in promoting diversification of the country’s economy, in line with the vision 20:20:20 and agricultural transformation.