The National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) has started creating awareness on the importance of seeds among secondary school students across the country.
Alhaji Idris Aliyu, the Director, Seed Industry Development, Technical Support and Commercial Services of NASC made this known to newsmen in Zaria, Kaduna State on Wednesday.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that Aliyu spoke on the sidelines of Seed Demonstration Field Day for some adopted schools across Kaduna State held at Islamic Trust Fund (ITN) Model Secondary School, Zaria.
The programme, which is a national event selected some secondary schools from each state for demonstration and education of youths on the importance of improved seeds.
Aliyu said the essence of bringing the programme down to secondary school level was to catch the youths very early “as the saying goes, catch them young”.
“Therefore, we want people to understand the value of this seed and you should know the future belongs to the youths and if we do not start a programme of educating the youths on the importance of agriculture in relations to improved seed our future will be bleak.
“This programme will enable the youths pick interest in agriculture first and become next generation of seed experts to meet the increasing seed demand but this can only be possible if they resolve to become future plant breeders,’’ he said.
The director observed that without plant breeders in the country, there would be no innovation for better seed production tomorrow, especially against the dynamic climatic condition and other factors affecting agriculture.
On seed adulteration, Aliyu said that the progamme was part of efforts to curtail the menace.
He said if youths were fully educated on the importance of quality seed, they would in turn be able to educate their families and other farming communities.
“As you can see, this category of youth have learned a lot from what had been showcased as far as quality seed is concerned, they will now take it home to their parents, they will be advising their parents.
“Not only their parents but also to other farming communities, to get them sensitised on the need to always go for quality improved seed,’’ Aliyu said.
The North-West Regional Director of the council, Alhaji Ubandoma Hudu-Mohammed said the present administration was working on making agriculture to be the main driver of the economy.
“We are here to support the youth not adult that is secondary school students but you cannot have youth without the adult because when you look at the population of Nigeria, over 55 to 60 per cent are youth,’’ he said.
Hudu-Ubandoma expressed concern that agriculture in Nigeria had only been practiced by the aged people in the past, adding that it was important to encourage youths to participate in agriculture for the nation’s food security.
“The President Muhammadu Buhari led administration wants to promote agriculture that is technology driven, instead of the rudimentary agriculture that our forefathers practiced and our brothers are still practicing.
“There is no way you will want youths to embrace agriculture without bringing a technology that will ease what they are going to do, that is what the present government is trying to do and we started with secondary schools.
“We are showcasing these materials and the improved seeds we have, so that you will have an opportunity to gradually develop your skills in terms of agricultural entrepreneur so that you can start planning ahead and try to look at the agricultural value chain and see the opportunities therein.
“Therefore, as future leaders, we want to develop your skills to become productive through agricultural practice and agricultural value chain,’’ he assured.
He said that agriculture remained the major employer of labour, especially with restricted number of job opportunities in the country.
The director added that the council did not want the youths to graduate from schools without job as they might be influenced by Boko Haram and other criminals.
“When you develop people and they have something to do, you actually perfect them but you develop them and allow them to sit idle, you are creating a problem and that is exactly what is happening.
“That’s why we started with secondary school and gradually we will extend our tentacles to other tertiary institutions for the good of the nation,’’ he said.
The Principal, ITN Model Secondary School, Malam Mudi Umar appreciated NASC for adopting his school and the opportunity to host the field demonstration day.
He, however, said that the choice of the school did not come as a surprise because the school had been an active participant in many agricultural programmes since 2007.
Umar said that the school was recognised and adopted by the National Agricultural Extension Research and Liaison Services.
He said that the school remained the best in the North West Region and represented the region during an agric competition in Abuja.
The principal said that any time a programme of such nature came, the school made maximum use of it, saying that the school was running fish pond strictly for the students which had been yielding the desired benefits.
Speaking on behalf of other adopted schools, Mr Yakubu Baba-Kwasu from Kufena College, Zaria described the entire programme as very interesting, saying it was widening the knowledge of both students and their teachers.
He advocated that the programme should not be restricted to some selected schools but it should be opened to all as a nationwide programme that would capture all secondary school students.
According to him, it will allow students get the basic knowledge about how to use improved quality seeds and be able to teach others.
The council selected and adopted five secondary schools across Kaduna State for demonstration of improved seeds in their respective farms.
The selected schools include Government Secondary School, Kufena, Government Secondary School, Basawa, Government Secondary School, Jama’a, Government Secondary School, Makarfi and ITN Model School, Zangon Shanu.
Prizes were presented to first, second and third schools for excelling in the demonstration farm practice.
Edited by Kabir Muhammad/Grace Yussuf