The Oyo State government says it has approved a sum of $1.2 million for the commencement of the Start Them Early Program (STEP), an agribusiness initiative in partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) meant to engage youths in agriculture across the state.
Akinola Ojo, the state commissioner for finance, disclosed this while briefing journalists after the 22nd State Executive Council meeting, noting that the state would be partnering with the IITA because it had performed excellently during the pilot phase initiated at Fashola Farm.
STEP aims at advancing young new farmers by providing them with enhanced technical, business and entrepreneurial skills in profitable agricultural practices.
The scheme was designed by the administration of Governor Seyi Makinde to restore, transform and reposition agriculture in Oyo State as the foremost industry driving the state economy, providing adequate food security and a sustainable platform for wealth creation for the people.
Ojo explained that the fund would be paid in batches and that the first payment had been approved, while the second payment would be approved in the second year of the program. The rest of the payments would be made before the program’s end.
“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.”
“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.”