UN declares 2020 as international year of plant health – IITA

By Adeola Badru

Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, on Tuesday, approved a partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) on a $1.2m agribusiness tagged: “Start Them Early”(STEP) programme, targeted towards encouraging the youths in the state to key into agro-economy.

The partnership, which was made known by the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akinola Ojo, while briefing Governor’s Office correspondents after the state’s 22nd exco meeting, is part of Governor Makinde’s major pillars of expanding the state’s economy in the area of agribusiness.

According to him, the state would be partnering IITA, because it has done a commendable job at the pilot scheme initiated at Fashola farm, adding that the scheme which was solely handled by IITA was laudable.

He added that it was on that note that the state is now ready to partner the firm with such amount just to key in the youths into the agro-economy.

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The commissioner also stated that the fund was going to be paid in milestone payments, which was will be in batches, disclosing that the first payment has been approved and the second payment would be approved at the second year of the commencement of the programme, while the rest payments would be paid before the end of the programme.

He also stated further that: “The state is blessed with agreeable landmass and we want to harness this potential by engaging our youths to actualise the expansion of state economy.”

“The programme is for a total cost of $1.2 million and what they are going to do is, they are going to put together in the six geo-political zones, schools will be used as a pilot.”

“They are going to overhaul schools in the three geo-political zones within Oyo State at the cost of $1.2 million and the STEP programme is to encourage all our youths to try and ensure they get involved in the agri-business, which is where Oyo State has its competitive advantage.”

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“This is a state funding project. We are targeting six secondary schools in the state. We will be partnering IITA because we want them to educate our youths through value chain programmes, they will be educating them on the required information and skills that are needed to see agriculture as sustainable development that can sustain the economic growth of the state.”

“Part of the funds will be used to restructure the structures of those schools for IITA to be able to work on, we are going to upgrade those schools for the project, we need to change the mindset of those students that they can sustain themselves and the state economy through agro-economy, Ojo stressed.

In his brief contribution, the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism in the state, Dr Wasiu Olatunbosun, noted that the agricultural initiative was not meant only for Nigeria, but a worldwide agricultural benefit to the youths.

Other commissioners present at the briefing include Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resources, Barrister Idowu Oyeleke, his counterpart from the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Chief Bayo Lawal and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media, Mr Jide Ajani.

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