Fashola Extols Agric-YES Programme As Three Sets of Trainees Graduate In Epe
• Also hands over 32-tonne capacity cassava flour factory, 50,000 capacity automated broiler houses, among other facilities
• "It is a huge and quantum leap from an idea that has become a reality", he says
Dec 12, 2013 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Thursday presided over the graduation of Courses 2, 3 and 4 trainees of the State's AGRIC Youth Empowerment Scheme programme in Epe describing the growth of the four-year old programme as a quantum leap from an idea that has become a reality.
Speaking at the ceremony which also witnessed the official handover of 32-tonnes capacity per day high quality cassava flour mill and a 50, 000 capacity automated five-unit broiler houses, among other facilities, to the Training Institute, Governor Fashola said the progress and achievements recorded by the AGRIC-Yes programme in such a short time showed that what is needed to boost food production in the country was "a clear idea, a clear plan and unflinching commitment to implement those plans".
Other facilities handed over to the Institute at the ceremony were 200 units of two-bedroom apartments for farmers, Ram ranch/ feed mill of 64-tonne capacity per day and 234 kilometre road network within the training institute.
Describing the programme as a very simple idea conceived in 2009, the Governor expressed joy that it has been rigorously developed and unflinchingly implemented adding, "When we graduated the first set of graduands in 2010 somewhere around this same spot, it was our first tentative steps to how to pursue a policy that, we were clear in our minds, was a way forward".
"We know it was a policy to take young people, young graduates away from the allure and the clamour and desperation of seeking and looking for jobs that do not exist and to bring them back to the foundations of the earth, to bring them back to the land", the Governor said pointing out that without production of food, the factories and other industrial production would collapse.
In his words, "If we do not produce food, the factories will shutdown, if we do not produce food and go back to the land, there will be no rubber to make tyres to even drive those luxury cars. That was the simple idea behind the AGRC-YES, to go back to the land, to create dignity and honour with the land so that young people will have a new focus and a new beginning".
Governor Fashola who had earlier, before arriving at the graduation ceremony, gone round the farm and handed over some completed projects to the institute, said the programme was still work in progress, declaring with delight, "Today, four years after, we have added a 32-tonne cassava mill to provide cassava flour to supplement what the flour mills are using in global production. Today, I am happy to hear that most of our beverage manufacturing companies are collecting their cassava starch from here. It is going into our ingredients that end up as beverage, chocolate drink and all of that in our State".
Continuing, the Governor enumerated other achievements of the State Government through the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry saying, "Today, we have added a 64-tonne feed mill so that all the feedstock required for our livestock is now locally sourced and locally produced. In that alone about 32 people are employed to keep it going. We have also added a 50, 000 broiler capacity which means that we are now able to produce 10,000 chickens a week from this place. We have also added about 50,000 layers and by January next year the stock of egg production here will rise to about 150,000 eggs in one day".
Other facilities added to make life comfortable for the graduands, the Governor said, included 200 units of two-bedrooms, improved road network, and laid out streets while he promised that his administration would continue to tackle the problem of electricity in the institute until it is solved. "You have my commitment; we will do something, no matter how difficult it is", he said.
Describing the AGRIC-YES programme as a small beginning that has taken a huge and quantum leap from an idea to become a reality, Governor Fashola charged the graduands, "You must determine not to let yourselves down. You are the most important person that you owe, not me. I have provided the opportunity; you must not let yourselves down".
He continued, "As you graduate today, remember these parents, your guardians, remember the Commissioner and the Permanent Secretary who have slaved in the sun and the rain to bring you this far. Today, you become proud owners, at least, of a two bedroom shelter on this land. You must not let them down because the prosperity of every society, including ours, rests in you and your commitment to the land".
Responding to the remarks of one of the best graduating students, Miss Oloko Olanrewaju, who spoke on behalf of the others, Governor Fashola said, "I accept your commitment and your promise, Olanrewaju, on behalf of your colleagues that you will not disappoint yourselves. As you have told us, you now have new skills because you have been properly trained and I thank all your resource persons".
"Today, the only thing that limits how big you can become is yourself and your ambition. We will continue providing steady hands, but you can only go as far as you can dream. I hope that you will achieve your dreams", he said.
Listing other achievements of the programme, Governor Fashola noted that while the State's rice milling capacity three years ago was 250 hectares, it has increased to 850 hectares of rice while the State is now milling that rice at the mill built by the State in Imota adding, "It is not only in Epe here that Agric is making progress; it is making progress in Ikorodu, it is also making progress in Badagry in the farm settlement and the rice mills that are there".
"When we started in 2010, our flagship was our development of agric farms, to improve the production of vegetables, carrots and so on and so forth. In addition to what we have done so far, we are also now experimenting on cattle fattening, goat and ram fattening so as to feed the high demand that Lagos has during festive seasons. It does not in any way suggest that we are going into full scale animal husbandry but it suggests that we are ready to take responsibility for our own food security", he said.
Congratulating the graduands and wishing them well in their future endeavours, Governor Fashola declared, "So for me, the idea has come to stay. We have built on a very simple idea of farm settlements, farmers keep close to or on their own lands, producing and creating their own markets there. The future really is in your hands. That future starts today and may God make it prosperous for all of you".
In her remarks on behalf of other graduands, Oloko Olanrewaju had expressed gratitude to the Governor for the privilege given to them pointing out that they have been well trained during the course and promising to put their best to achieve food security in the country.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Cooperatives, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, had charged the graduands to use the skills which they have acquired to be the change they want to see in the world.
Also present at the ceremony were Secretary to the State Government, Dr. (Mrs.) Oluranti Olugbile, Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, Chairman House Committee on Information, Hon. Segun Olulade, Special Adviser on Education, Otunba Fatai Olukoga, members of the State House of Assembly , Chairmen of Local Governments, parents and guardians as well as relations of graduands and other stakeholders.