How Leven­tis agribusi­ness ini­tia­tive em­pow­ers youth

Sunday Trust - - AGRIC BUSINESS - By Sa­fina Buhari

Leven­tis Foun­da­tion Nige­ria Lim­ited is trans­form­ing the lives of Nige­rian youths by pro­vid­ing a one year agri­cul­tural train­ing pro­gramme for free across its six schools scat­tered across the coun­try - Kano, Gombe, Kaduna, Osun, Ondo and the Fed­eral Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory (FCT).

So far, about 25, 000 Nige­rian youths and farm­ers have ben­e­fit­ted from train­ing in dif­fer­ent agri­cul­tural fields since its in­cep­tion in 1988.

The ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Foun­da­tion, Dr Hope U. Ovie, told Daily Trust on Sun­day that in 2017 alone, the Leven­tis Foun­da­tion Agri­cul­tural Train­ing School trained 83 par­tic­i­pants in short cour­ses. They were able to train a to­tal of 570 youths in sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture across Nige­ria in one year.

“I am al­ways over­whelmed when these ex-trainees come out to speak. They tell you how they came from noth­ing to be­com­ing an es­tab­lished agri-preneurs with the ca­pac­ity to em­ploy other peo­ple. That alone shows the im­pact our oper­a­tion has had in Nige­ria,” he noted.

He noted that the first schools were in Ile­sha, Osun State, Ondo State and Do­gon-dawa in Kaduna State. They were opened in 1988 for train­ing youths and farm­ers on sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture on a 50/50 fund­ing model be­tween the state gov­ern­ments and the foun­da­tion. He, how­ever, added that they now op­er­ate at a 70/30 fund­ing model.

Dr Ovie main­tained that ini­tially, fund­ing of the train­ing was done only by Leven­tis Foun­da­tion, but it now has a new model where each part­ner­ing state con­trib­utes cer­tain per­cent­age of the an­nual cost of fund­ing the schools.

He said the train­ing schools in Ondo, Kano and Kaduna had the high­est ca­pac­ity with 150 trainees per year but cur­rently tak­ing 120 trainees in Ile­sha be­cause of lack of con­stant fund­ing com­ing from the state gov­ern­ment.

“The Kano State Gov­ern­ment, for ex­am­ple, wants to see that the school is tak­ing more trainees and prepar­ing its cur­ric­u­lar in such a way that we have both male and fe­male trainees. It goes to show that we are think­ing of ex­pan­sion,” he said.

He said the ca­pac­ity in Do­gondawa was 100 to 120, with the small­est in Abaji, FCT with the ca­pac­ity of 100 trainees.

On how to get Leven­tis to start in a state, he ex­plained that first, “The state will show in­ter­est and we send them the ba­sic re­quire­ments for a school to be es­tab­lished in their state, which in­clude the pro­vi­sion of a site that can ac­com­mo­date a cer­tain num­ber of stu­dents, a min­i­mum of 150 trainees; for staff, ad­min­is­tra­tive block and a farm­land for train­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. And that would come with ba­sic in­fras­truc­ture like wa­ter, ac­cess road and im­ple­ments like trac­tors, a poul­try and fish farm­ing unit for the school. When all of these are in place, we can then come and talk about a me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, the sec­re­tary of Leven­tis Train­ing School, Abaji, Mr James Owoi­cho, ex­plained that the cur­ricu­lum was 80per cent prac­ti­cal and 20per cent the­ory. And trainees, both male and fe­male en­rol for a whole year be­fore grad­u­at­ing.

He noted that the trainees were given free food, ac­com­mo­da­tion, uni­form and farm im­ple­ments, and a monthly stipend of N1, 000, which was in­creased to N3, 000 in 2017.

Owoi­cho re­vealed that when the school started, they took at least 70 trainees, but only be­tween 30 and 60 grad­u­ated. He was, how­ever, de­lighted that there is con­sid­er­able in­crease in the num­ber of grad­u­ates.

The head of the Depart­ment of Crop and Agro­forestry, Mr Bi­gun Pon­man Ishaku, con­firmed that the crop pro­duc­tion depart­ment had 30 hectares of land where the trainees grow cas­sava, melon, maize, soya beans and ben­niseed. He added that the agro­forestry com­po­nent dealt with bud­ded plants, cit­rus, man­goes, paw­paw.

He noted that the trainees also got train­ing on or­na­men­tal prop­a­ga­tion and bee keep­ing for honey pro­duc­tion.

Sim­i­larly, the head of the Depart­ment of Live­stock, Mr Ig­we­madu An­thony, noted that good man­age­ment prac­tices, in­clud­ing feed­ing and hous­ing, formed the ba­sis of what they teach trainees.

Ad­di­tion­ally, An­thony said the stu­dents were also trained on feed for­mu­la­tion, dis­ease preven­tion, di­ag­no­sis and man­age­ment in poul­try birds, fish, cat­tle and sheep, among oth­ers.

On the other hand, the head of Farm Mech­a­ni­sa­tion Unit en­sures proper work­ing con­di­tions of all equip­ment and ma­chiner­ies at the train­ing school. This is in ad­di­tion to the main­te­nance of elec­tri­cal fa­cil­i­ties and gen­eral plumb­ing work.

The head of the unit, who is also in charge of crop pro­duc­tion, was re­spon­si­ble for as­sem­bling the dif­fer­ent farm ma­chiner­ies, in­clud­ing trac­tors, planters, ridgers, plough, among oth­ers.

Mean­while, the Depart­ment of En­ter­prise, headed by Mr Oluse­gun Seoto, trains stu­dents on value ad­di­tion, such as she­abut­ter pro­cess­ing, tie and die, de­ter­gent mak­ing. It also en­gages in com­mu­nity ser­vice.

“The im­pact is in­creas­ing be­cause the rate at which peo­ple are de­mand­ing for the train­ing is hand­some. If Nige­ria needs any­thing that would make us suf­fi­cient, it is this train­ing,” he said.

The Leven­tis Foun­da­tion Nige­ria was es­tab­lished to take over and ex­pand the work of the “Nige­ria Ad­vi­sory Panel” of the A. G. Leven­tis Foun­da­tion, which has been ac­tive since 1979. Its main fo­cus is to sus­tain the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s drive to achieve self­suf­fi­ciency in food pro­duc­tion, with re­new fo­cus on tran­ing the coun­try’s young pop­u­la­tion in mod­ern farm­ing tech­niques with agribusi­ness ap­proach for in­come gen­er­a­tion.

One of the fish rear­ing fa­cil­i­ties in the train­ing school

A poul­try farm at Abaji train­ing school

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