I promise to fight those sweet silent tears, for I am moved as I write this.
It was indeed a rare and resounding privilege for me to have been selected among the 300 youths (Lot 9) from Oyo State, to whom His Excellency Governor Seyi Makinde had granted assistance for the agribusiness training in Nassarawa State.
No sooner did I think I would embark on a journey with a police escort blowing a siren behind me, Governor Makinde made my long-held dream come true; as myself and other young people traveled to Nassarawa State with a police escort behind us – a fun time that would last a long time.
CSS Farms, Nassarawa was not just a place for us, but a home away from home. The gigantic structures and machinery were a serene sight to behold. The more than 1,200 hectares of dry land left my mouth wide open. Most notably, the professionals who guided us through the agribusiness courses attested to the fact that Governor Seyi Makinde is doing his best. He indeed took us to the best of farms in Nigeria.
Who knew adults like us could be treated like babies? Yes, babies. Babies who were addressed with kindness, gently guided and treated with tender care that even our towels were washed every other day. Need we add that we were treated to delicious treats, which one of us jokingly said, “we should just keep living here”. Lol.
5:30am was our daily wake-up time, after which we headed to places of worship – Muslims and Christians among us symmetrically. 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. for the morning exercise and drill, after all, only a healthy, active mind can have a productive farm session. 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. was assigned for cleaning and bathing. While 8:30 to 9:30 was for the introductory class; where the activities for the whole day would be communicated to us; after which some went to the farm and others sat down for the theoretical course, while we exchanged sessions in the evening. Our two (2) weeks in Nassarawa on the journey to becoming Outstanding Farmers went in that direction.
Worth adding, all unit leaders were “Israeli-trained”, and they are professionals who made every course flow in our heads. From the chairman of the CSS himself, Professor John Kennedy (Man of God), who took us on our very first lesson with other professionals, it can easily be said that they all have expert hands in agriculture. A successful farmer like Prof. JK is the one that all the participants had their aspiration on, as one could easily say that he made his fortune through farming. Or who would otherwise aspire, when a man’s farm possesses:
– Furnace (heater) which cost 11.5 million dollars, 5 of its kind.
– Green House for Vegetable plantation, which costs 35 million dollars each and 20 such machines and many gigantic machines.
Renowned lecturers and professors have also been invited to take us on agricultural courses.
Professor John Musa from Funaab guided us through the irrigation, likewise, Engr. Emmanuel Opara who will later affirm that: No water, no farm, no food, no life. This means that when there is no water there is no agriculture, when there is no agriculture there is no food and when there is no there is no food, there is no life. Without exaggeration, I almost forgot my birthday which fell between the days of training. Since I was very carried away by the amazing activities and machines, my eyes were met.
It should be added that we had a series of trainings focusing on the agricultural value chain; where the concept of agricultural product processing chains was unveiled. The cassava value chain for example: we were told that selling cassava directly is wrong and myopic; as it could be transformed through the value chain into Garri, cassava chips, cassava flour, starch, ethanol, among others.
Additional training focused on:
– Crops: Cassava, Corn, Rice, Melon.
– Fishing: where we taught the crossing of male and female fish eggs to win hundreds of fish
– Poultry: production, health, egg and manure
– Vegetables: greenhouse and hydroponic production.
– Ruminants: cattle, sheep and goats.
– Mechanization: The practical use and maintenance of tractors, irrigators, rice planters and other gigantic machines have not been spared
– Digital agriculture: this allowed us to take advantage of the digital aspect of agriculture such as Branding, Networking, Maketing. In which we were given a high quality iPad each.
Also, packaging, branding, nylon, logo, record keeping and profits were part of the training.
This, unquestionably, is the first of its kind in Oyo State, where young people have been rounded up for productive agricultural training like this. For the 300 young people gathered for each class. We were from lot 9, which brought the number to 2,700 out of 10,000 potential Oyo natives. In addition to the iPad we received, we received $10,000 each as a participation allowance with an additional promise of 6-figure start-up capital. After when we would have access to loans.
This was my 2 week experience under the just completed Agribusiness Training Program (Lot 9) sponsored by the People’s Governor, Engr Seyi Makinde. That he never falters remains my prayer and that of the other beneficiaries. Because his initiatives are commendable and his ideas without equal. I pray that he continues to navigate through the rigors of leadership. 2023, by the grace of God, remains unnegotiable.
In the years to come we will no doubt have millionaires among us who have set up this training, we hope to repay Gov Makinde in instalments – because whether he asks or not, it is worth appreciating at- beyond thoughts. May we be proud of ourselves, our family, Nigeria and His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde.
Abdulsalam Mubarak Adio is the Oluyole Team Leader of the Beneficiaries of (Lot 9) Agro Business Program sponsored by Governor Seyi Makinde.