The State Supervisory team on Thursday 21st January 2021 visited the Start Them Early Program (STEP) sites which is an initiative to change orientation of the youths towards agribusiness. The project was established by the Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA) in collaboration with the IITA at the Methodist High School, Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Orita Challenge, Ibadan and Bishop Philip Academy, Iwo Road, Ibadan.
The Executive Adviser to The State Governor and Director General, Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA), Dr Debo Akande praised to the young ones for accepting the initiative, saying the initiative is not only about the structure but to change mindsets of the youths, train and triple down practical experience towards agribusiness in such a way to affect their parents positively and the community at large thereby increasing academic excellence.
Doctor Debo Akande intimated that the State Government led by Engr. Seyi Makinde is committed to the initiative and will spread it across the State. He said its sustainability would be ensured through collaboration among the stakeholders including the schools and Old Students Association. The Vice Principal MHSI, Mrs Azeez Olabisi welcomed the team and expressed her appreciation over the job done by the IITA for the benefits of the students and for selecting her school for the project, adding that the development will go a long way to improve learning, make learning environment more conducive and have positive impact on student academic performance.
Miss Bolanle Larinde, IITA Oyo State STEP coordinator received and led the State team to various projects executed. Mr. Okpikoro Isaiah of Bureau of Public Procurement said he was impressed that the current administration of the State is transforming agriculture into agribusiness. The President of Methodist High School, Ibadan Old Boys Association (MHSIOBA), Dr Lekan Abioye thanked the State Government for the collaborative work meant for raising the standard of education and provision of conducive environment for learning. He added that entrepreneurs as wealthy as Dangote will soon emerge through agribusiness in the State. Mr Adedayo Adefioye, the STEP Coordinator of three African Countries while interviewed said three African countries – Kenya, Congo and Nigeria are participating in STEP Program and Oyo State is the first State to implement STEP initiative in Nigeria. And as a result of success of the initiative, Kaduna, Kano and Lagos States are now showing interest and seeking IITA collaboration for implementing STEP in their respective States. He added: “STEP is meant to transform agriculture, build capacity of youths in agribusiness, create employment and make youths self-reliant. STEP has been able to influence the decision of the State Government on improving the standard of education and promoting agribusiness among the youths.”
The schools are provided with ICT centres, multipurpose laboratories, well equipped home economic processing centres, farm machineries, stocked fish ponds, libraries with modern toilets and furniture. The Representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture and Education, Mrs Adeniran Olufumke and Mr Obatowon George respectively expressed their satisfaction with first phase of the project and charged OYSADA to put the necessary monitoring team in place. They also said the schools should imbibe maintenance culture for sustainability. The team’s members were drawn from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Bureau of Public Procurement, Auditor General Office and State Monitoring office.
Reporting officer: Adekunle Adebukola (Mrs)
OYSADA Desk Officer