Youth Agripreneurs day out at Fasola Grammar School
The Start Them Early Program (STEP), which operates under the IITA Youth in Agribusiness office, focuses on how to advance agribusiness development to secondary schools in Africa. It aims at redirecting the aspirations of young people in secondary schools towards careers in modern agriculture by exposing them to viable opportunities in agribusiness at an early stage.
Nine secondary schools have been selected in three countries—the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and Nigeria—to implement the pilot phase of the project.
The STEP-Nigeria team selected three schools within the Southwestern region of the country to implement the pilot phase of the program, namely Fasola Grammar School, Oluponna High School, and Lead City International School.
Fasola Grammar School and Oluponna High School are both government schools situated in rural communities, with the former located in a subsistence livelihood setting, and the latter in a market-oriented, mixed agriculture area. The third school is a private school, with not much land area for establishing demonstration fields but high levels of classroom and laboratory instruction.
At Fasola Grammar School in Oyo State Nigeria, the team is currently carrying out construction and renovation work on some laboratories and classrooms in preparation for modernized training in Agribusiness.
On 21 February, the team from the Youth in Agribusiness office visited the school and expressed a deep sense of pride with the ongoing work being carried out by IITA. The team comprised Adetola Adenmosun, Lead of the Youth in Agribusiness Office; Eniola Olanrewaju, ICT Officer; Oludoyin Adedayo, Administrative Officer; Adesanya Omotomiwa, Communications Officer; Oluyemi Adunoye, Coordinator of the Youth Employment in Agribusiness and Sustainable Agriculture (YEASA) Project; and Adefioye Adedayo, STEP Coordinator.
Adunoye said, “The STEP program is bigger than introducing agriculture to students in secondary schools. It is a revolution that would promote the development of future national and global leaders from the most unlikely places.” She noted that though resources were limited, extensive impact can be achieved with everyone chipping in.
Other team members spoke of the experience as a revelation and a moment of reflection on what they could do to improve the learning experience of the pupils of Fasola Grammar School. They also expressed hope that other corporate organizations and well-meaning individuals could support the cause of students in rural areas and provide them with the basic infrastructure needed to enhance learning.
The STEP Coordinator expressed his delight at having their Youth in Agribusiness colleagues see the progress made so far at Fasola Grammar School. “We exchanged ideas on how to make things better at the school and we are not going to relax until we achieve our goals,” he concluded.