Graduands at the closing ceremony of the Batch II Lagos Agriprenuership Programme at Agricultutral Training Institute, Araga, Epe on Sunday.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, has charged no fewer than 100 women and youth graduands of the State Agripreneurship Programme to be committed to the attainment of the government’s food security goal.

Olusanya stated this at the graduation ceremony of the second batch of the Lagos Agripreneurship Programme on Sunday at the Agricultural Training Institute, Araga, Epe.

She further reiterated the commitment of the state government to engage, equip and empower women and youth particularly to become world-class agripreneurs.

The commissioner, represented by the Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Olayiwole Onasanya, noted that the programme was conceptualised by the administration of the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to solve the hydra-headed problem of women and youth unemployment in the state.

“It has become increasingly obvious that if a bold step is not taken to address the issue of youth and women unemployment, the state may become a hotbed for symptoms of youth restiveness.

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“Previous administrations have embarked on a journey to create jobs, alleviate poverty and ensure food security in Lagos state through the establishment of Agriculture-based Youth Empowerment Scheme, popularly known as Agric-Yes.

“Overtime, 600 youths have been trained in various agricultural value chains,” she said.

The commissioner added that the programme was set up with the aim of training and empowering a much larger number of women and youth in the agricultural value chains, including Aquaculture, Poultry, Piggery and Vegetable, as well as, entrepreneurship skills and E-Agric.

She said that the purpose was to train 15,000 women and youth at the various training facilities across the state by the year 2023 which is in line with the objective of promoting agriculture to make the state a 21st century economy in the line with the T.H.E.M.E.S developmental agenda of the current administration.

Olusanya revealed that the agripreneurship programme which was flagged off on 10 February 2020, had so far trained 300 participants, made up of 200 in Batch 1 and 100 in Batch II, in an intensive agriculture training.

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The commissioner explained that the plan was to train a minimum of 2,000 beneficiaries in 2020 but the lockdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic distorted the programme significantly, hence the delay in the implementation of the training of Batch II which commenced on 4 November.

She stated that in keeping with the guidelines of NCDC with respect to social and physical distancing, the number of participants was reduced to 100.

“We are strongly committed to the implementation of the second phase of the programme which includes partnership with existing farms/agribusinesses with a view to attaching beneficiaries to agribusinesses closest to their residences for internships pending linkage to sources of finance.

“Facilitation of access to financing, the establishment of additional enterprise-specific Farm Estates across the state where participants could be allocated land space according to the enterprise of interest and location among other benefits,” Olusanya said.

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Earlier, the Director, Agricultural Training Institute, Mr Adeyinka Omirin, explained that during the one-month training, participants were exposed to theoretical and practical training.

Omirin added that entrepreneurship and e-agriculture modules were also incorporated into the programme.

He expressed confidence that with the level of engagement experienced during the programme, participants would not find it difficult to make a remarkable impact in the agricultural space locally and internationally.

Mr Gabriel Oludare, one of the graduands, appreciated the state government for coming up with such a productive initiative.

Oludare, speaking on behalf of other participants, said that they have been ably equipped to conquer the agricultural space and make a mark in contributing to the food security objective of the state.