Nigerian Youths Want Mechanised, Not Hoe, Cutlass Farming Methods – Akhanemhe | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Nigerian Youths Want Mechanised, Not Hoe, Cutlass Farming Methods – Akhanemhe

Posted: Jul 31, 2015 at 12:11 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Cyril Akhanemhe is the Lagos State Coordinator of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). In this interview with Oyeniran Apata, he speaks on effort by the scheme to encourage corps members with passion in farming activities and endeavour by the scheme to seek the support of corporate Lagos and Nigerians in the development of four hectares of arable farmland donated by the government for its practical agriculture. Excepts:

What has become of the land donated to the NYSC by the Lagos State government to improve skill acquisition by members in agriculture and other farming activities?

NYSC is trying to resuscitate farm activities in Lagos State. Thank God Lagos State has donated four hectares of land for this purpose to the scheme at Itoikin, a suburb of the state within Epe and after Ikorodu areas of the state.

To kick start the project, funds have been provided for NYSC for the clearing of the parcel of land at least to secure it from the prying eyes of land grabbers. Very soon, we shall start full scale farming on the land by cultivating plants that can grow luxuriantly based on the soil formation of the area.

We are also trying to tap into the available human resources in the area, that is, corps members on PPA in the locality to start planting on the land. There will be a lot of agro activities that will spring up on the land specifically for agribusiness. For instance, farmers from the community will also benefit from the model farming activities we are trying to bring to that area.

We are also looking at a situation where our corps members who are interested in farming will be encouraged to also take advantage of the arable land as a stepping stone to acquire skills in agriculture. The management of the NYSC is highly interested and hopes that with the raining season around, we look forward to the commencement of planting.

Apart from the NYSC eagerly looking forward to the commencement of farming activities on the land, the community is also looking forward to a relationship with us.

It might interest you to also know that the land is under the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority and tells you the extent of interest to impart skills in agri-business in our youths. The land technically falls within land belonging to the federal government. We are doing everything possible to start farming activities for vegetable, fruit crops among others.

In view of the expanse of land, it is obvious that NYSC would require support in this direction to commence something viable on the land.


What form of assistance or responses has NYSC received to encourage corps members acquire skills in agribusiness?

What you should remember is that the NYSC is not new in farming activities. We have a thriving fish farm, poultry, snailry and drier for fish. What we want to do is moving from traditional farming activities in all of the areas I have mentioned into mechanized farming on a large scale by asking corporate bodies to support the project.

We have enjoyed support from some of this organization for our fish farms and poultry as well as the water factory. Presently, we are treating our water plant to free the water of excess iron. This is with a view to expand the fish farm for improved yields. Fish cannot survive in iodised water.

Also, we are going into food processing with an assurance from the Honeywell Group to support our bakery business. The only issues concerning that is for NYSC to provide a space for the business that will also serve as skill acquisition centre for corps members that have passion for confectionary industry. Take for instance, our fish farm apart from sales of live fish we also have the capacity for preservation and storage; that is a dryer that keeps the fish dry and available all year round. I am using this opportunity to seek for support from the corporate organization and multinational corporations to support the agribusiness of the NYSC. We believe if youths are empowered in this direction, achieving food sufficiency might not be too far away for Nigeria to realize in line with the Federal government diversification focus into agriculture to take its place once again as the mainstay of the economy.

We shall continue to tap into the enthusiasm of young male and female Nigerian graduates to be part of the process of making the country a better and effect a change through our farmlands.

When one talk about farming on a small scale, what readily comes to mind is cutlass and hoe method of farming, what shape will this farm project take in order to elicit the right attention and participation by corps members?

Four hectares is a large expanse of land where hoe and cutlass will not make significant impact. We are liaising with the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture to engage their tractors for mechanized farming activities.


What are the arrangements for corps members that show interest in farming?

We have lots of corps members that have shown interest and enthusiasm in farming. They will be deployed to this area and farmland not only to learn the practical aspect of farming, but to also have exposure to mechanized farming. I make bold to correct a notion that young men and women are not interested in farming. They are enthusiastic and have interest, but the farming they want to be engaged in is the farming with cutlass and hoe method. When we have the tractors in place, all other things will fall in place. We are working on it serious and with commitment on the farm project.


Earlier, you stated that farming was not a new venture to NYSC, be that as it may, what happens to the products or is it a text book theory alone?

Our poultry products are even enough to satisfy people around the secretariat. The fishes in our farm are dried up. The eggs serve to corps members are direct from the poultry. The dry fish is also a favourite of our staff and other around us buy and pay. If you go into the poultry as we talk, the eggs laid by the fowls are taken immediately. There is ready market for our products and food because everybody wants to eat and eat well. Our prices are quite affordable.

We are only hoping that corporate bodies will come and support us to enable these young men and women learn the practical aspects of agriculture. Honeywell has signified interest to help our bakery in baking.