Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, yesterday approved partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) on a $1.2m agribusiness tagged: Start Them Early (STEP) programme, targeted towards encouraging the youths in the state to key into agriculture.
Briefing journalists at the Governor’s Office after the 22nd State Executive Council meeting, the Commissioner for Finance, Mr Akinola Ojo, said the partnership was part of Governor Makinde’s major pillars to expand the state’s economy in the area of agribusiness.
According to him, the state would be partnering IITA because it had done a commendable job at the pilot scheme initiated at Fashola Farm.
He added that it was on that note that the state is now ready to partner the firm with such amount just to key in the youths into agroeconomy.
The commissioner also stated that the fund would be paid in batches, disclosing that the first payment had been approved and the second payment would be approved at the second year of the commencement of the programme, while the rest payments would be paid before the end of the programme.
He said: “The state is blessed with agreeable landmass and we want to harness this potential by engaging our youths to actualise the expansion of state economy.
“The programme is for a total cost of $1.2 million and what they are going to do is, they are going to put together, in the geo-political zones, schools will be used as pilot.
“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.
“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.”
The Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism in the state, Dr Wasiu Olatunbosun, said the agricultural initiative was meant to benefit youths.