The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture’s (IITA) Start Them Early Programme (STEP) in Nigeria organised an implementation workshop towards the rapid expansion of the programme in six secondary schools across the six geopolitical zones in Oyo State.
This is in line with the STEP-Oyo State project initiated after the inauguration of STEP in Fasola Grammar School, Oyo town.
STEP is an initiative launched by IITA to advance agribusiness development to secondary schools across Africa. This is because agriculture is a major contributor to economic growth across Africa, but the attraction of secondary school students to careers in agriculture has been very low over the years.
On July 23, IITA, in collaboration with the Oyo State Government, officially launched STEP in Fasola Grammar School, Oyo town.
The successful transition of Fasola School to the STEP model prompted the interest of the state government to initiate the STEP-Oyo State project and proposed six schools to adopt the model in 2020 and many more in the future.
During the workshop activity-breakdown session, the facilitator, Jonathan Odhong, said: “We are here to develop the implementation plan for the STEP program. We believe that at the end of the workshop, the Oyo State Government will be proud of us.”
In his opening remarks, IITA Director General Nteranya Sanginga spoke about the origin of STEP while commending the efforts of the team so far.
“This is the time to be proud of what these young people have accomplished. Nobody will develop Africa other than Africans, so we are rewriting history for the future. We are building the foundation of Africa’s economic future through the youth”, he said.
During the breakout sessions, the STEP team and key partners of the project came together to share and develop strategies that will drive the implementation of the work plan. Most importantly, they designed and integrated an exclusive work plan for each school.
Speaking, Executive Advisor to the Oyo State Governor on Agribusiness, Dr Adebowale Akande, said: “It is a privilege for Oyo to participate in the project because this is one of our strategies to create new Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the state. As a result, the interest and commitment of the Governor in the project are very high.”
Akande also advised the youth to make good use of this opportunity as agribusiness is a lucrative field, and the government has good plans for youth in this area.
In an interview with the IITA Communication and Radio Team, Bolanle Larinde, Coordinator for the STEP-Oyo State Project, mentioned that one of the expected results for every school in which STEP features would be an upgrade in the school facilities.
This would promote better learning and the training of students in agribusiness for independence and value addition to their families and the society at large.
“Through the instrumentation of STEP in these schools, students should be able to see agriculture as a business and a career path”, she adds.