The Lagos State Government says it will continue to promote a Youth Empowerment Scheme that will expose youths and students to modern agricultural value chain skills and methods in the post COVID-19 era.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, gave the assurance on Tuesday at the opening ceremony of a five-day training in the coconut value chain for 30 student nurses in the state, at the Farm Service Center, Oko-Oba, Agege.
The training was tagged: ‘Integrating Coconut Value Chain into the Entrepreneurship Course for Student Nurses in Lagos State’.
It was a collaborative initiative of Lagos State Coconut Development Authority (LASCODA) and Lagos State College of Nursing (LASCON).
Olusanya, who was represented by the Director, Administration and Human Resource, Mrs Yemisi Rosiji, said that the training was a sub-set of the Schools’ Agricultural Programme (SAP).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the SAP was conceived in 1989 in order to support the education sector in the areas of capacity building and direct intervention.
Olusanya noted that the training would awaken the subconscious of student nurses for self-employment and equip them with the skills needed.
She said it would as well as expose them to the hidden treasures of the economic and health values of coconut.
“I am delighted to note that the SAP is extending its tentacles to tertiary institutions in the state with no other value chain at the centre but coconut, which has been variously tagged the ‘Tree of Lagos State’.
“This training is one of the outcomes of many efforts of Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture on Youth Empowerment Scheme, designed to expose youths and students to modern agricultural and food value chain skills and methods.
“The aim is to empower them with sound practical knowledge if they choose agriculture as a profession or as a source of additional income to whatever choice of career they may pick later in life,” she said.
Olusanya noted the uniqueness of the nursing profession in the health sector, being the closest to the patients, therefore, making it imperative for them to be well-grounded in agricultural value chains that are of great dietary importance.
She said that participants would be trained on modern techniques for coconut oil processing (hot and cold pressed), coconut flour production, production of coconut snacks such as coconut flakes, chuk-chuk and gurundi.
The commissioner said another area of training was agro-business development skills, with the use of the Nigerian Agricultural Enterprise Curriculum kit.
According to her, the training has been specially designed in a way that the theoretical contents and modules emphasise developing an entrepreneurship mindset for the participants as well as espousing the health benefits of coconut.
The commissioner said that the training would be 70 per cent practical, which includes hands-on, demonstrations and group discussion.
This is with the aim of building the capacity of the participants to produce some edible coconut products independently.
“I consider it necessary to re-affirm that the state is blessed with abundant coconut resources which informed the establishment of LASCODA.
“The Agency that is responsible for upholding the State’s comparative advantage of this wonderful crop in the areas of production, utilisation and commercialization within the downstream and the upstream facets.
“This training, which will be a yearly activity henceforth, will be focusing on the processing and utilisation of the coconut value chain.
“I have also been reliably informed that LASCON has gotten necessary accreditation for integrating this training into the entrepreneurship course of nurses.
“The implication of this is that all nurses to be trained in Lagos need to have the skill and knowledge of processing of edible by-products of coconut,” Olusanya said.
Earlier, the Provost, LASCON, Igando, Mrs Olufunsho Orenuga, commended the state government for creating a platform to train students in the coconut value chain to have an extra source of income.
According to her, the concept of entrepreneurship is a ‘new normal’ in the education sector which had always been a part of the educational curriculum, but had been trivialised.
Orenuga said that the process of revamping the core curriculum which was designed to address societal needs was what gave voice to the need for entrepreneurship.
“In a post COVID-19 world, one of the Nigeria philosophies of education according to the National Policy on Education has, therefore, become more obvious, education for self reliance.
“This too is a new normal as it is being proposed that university education is fast becoming obsolete and so people will have to depend more on their skills to earn a living.
“The importance of entrepreneurship in addressing SDGs 1, 2, 4, 8 and 9, these include poverty alleviation, zero hunger, wealth creation, job creation, innovation and economic impact, has led to the introduction of entrepreneurship as a compulsory course in Nigerian tertiary institutions.
“The advent of the pandemic has also made many things that we have overlooked more glaring and it has exposed voids and emphasised our non-preparedness especially in the area of entrepreneurship,” Orenuga said.(NAN)