BY DANIEL ETEGHE
The Lagos State Agriculture Youth Empowerment Scheme, popularly known as “Agric-YES” aimed at empowering youths, has s far empowered over three hundred youths with an additional one hundred participants undergoing training at the moment.
Course Officer for Vegetable , Mr. Hakeem Anjolaiya, who disclosed this at the institute training centre at Epe, said that the overall aim of the scheme is to breed a new generation of agro-entrepreneurs in poultry, fish farming, bee-keeping and all season vegetable farming.
Anjolaiya said the students of the institute normally go through six months intensive training and also a period of internship before they are left on their own as full fledged farmers.
He explained that after the training, the government gives the participants money and some plots of land to assist them to go into mechanized agriculture.
“Since this programme started in 2009, we have trained about 300 youths and we are in the fourth batch of training 100 of them. We train them in poultry farming, crop farmers, fish farmers meat production and so on
“We get our students through advertisement in the media after that we conduct a test for them, we usually collect 36 female and 64 males for each batch of student to sum up as 100 participants for a session” he said.
He further noted that after the training that the participants would be divided into co-operatives and each co-operative would be given the sum of N100million to carry out their agricultural venture.
According to him, “apart from the N100million, the participants were also given accommodation where they can live with their own families. We also have a fully automated layer pen where we generate 500 crates of eggs per day, people are coming to buy them and we move out as much that we can produce. We can’t even meet the demand of the market now”
Also speaking during the chat, the Project Officer, Ram Ranch, Mr. Johnson Oluwashola disclosed that the institute has between 1,000 and 1,500 rams.
He explained that the rams were brought into the farm at five months old where they were trained to maturity, stressing that though they were not involved in the breeding process of the rams, that the institute will soon embark on breeding at the ram ranch in the nearest future.
Johnson said the success recorded at the farm is part of the state government’s investment in agriculture as a way of job creation and food security in the state.
Rice for job is another lucrative project that has helped to provide job opportunities to most youths as well as increase the volume of rice produced in the state.
At the Imota rice processing mill still in Ikorodu, a consultant to the Lagos state government on rice project, Dr. Oluwa Rotimi Fashola pointed out that rice that were processed at the mill were far better that those polished rice that are in the market because of the nutrient inherent in it.
He said that the mill has three main buildings where you have the paddy that is raw rice brought from the farm to main building where the rice is processed and to the store room where it is stored before it is dispatched to the market.
According to him, “we produce 2.5 tones per hour and an approximate 15,000 to 20,000 thousand tones per annum which is about four hundred bags of 50kg rice.”
Asked the type of rice that they deal on, Dr. Fashola said”Eko rice is a special brand of rice which is FARO 44 or FARO 52. We use this type of grain of rice for uniformity and that helps in monitoring the standard that we produce. We specialize in doing per-boiled rice. We supply our rice to the government within the ministry and within the Alausa axis”
One of the beneficiaries of the Rice for Job project, Mr. Adeniyi Ayino said that the programme has helped him a lot adding that now he could operate a tractor very well and work perfectly as a rice farmer.
“It is an interesting programme, it is a good opportunity for youths today and because we want to participate in the solution in ensuring food security in Lagos state that is why some of us go into agriculture” he said.
As for Mrs. Bolaji Dania, a fish farmer in one of the agric estates, the Lagos state government has helped farmers a lot in the state by assisting them with feeds adding that the government went as far as providing the needed information to farmers on how to improve their farms.
Mrs. Dania who is into Cat fish farming said” I am proud of the government because they have made things easy for farmers like us, being on this estate to farm has helped me a lot in getting access to information from the government, government also subsidise some of the products for us and I was even opportune to get loan from the World Bank through the assistance of the government.
Mrs. Diana further said” I started fish farming with three pounds on one plot 5 years ago and now I have 18 pounds on three plots of land.