By Adedotun Ajayi
School farm can play an essential role in the nation’s strive towards food security. .Agriculture is a critical sector that is essential for feeding the growing global population, and it is essential to ensure that the next generation has the knowledge, skills, and passion for agriculture.
It provides a hands-on learning experience that enables students understand the practical aspects of agriculture. By working on the farm, students learn about crop and animal production, soil management, pest control, irrigation, and other essential agricultural practices.
Besides, it provides an opportunity for students to develop entrepreneurial skills. Students can learn about market demand and supply, pricing, and sales strategies. By selling their farm produce, they can raise funds for their school, which can be used to improve the farm and other school facilities.
Over the years, school-farming popularity has dwindled and its benefits lost on educators and stakeholders alike. Ironically, in rural areas where school premises still sprawl across several acres of land, pupils are not engaging in farming as part of their study.
The Federal Government had, at different times, put up programmes and policies aimed at entrenching farming among pupils and students.
To facilitate the internalisation process, the National Education Research Council (NERDC) spearheaded the setting up of the Agricultural Science Curriculum to ensure acquisition of entrepreneurial work skills through prescribed activities and projects, which are inherent aspects of the applied technology called agriculture. According to the body, there should be teacher orientation, training and re-training for effective delivery. Schools are to be provided with necessary logistics for successful implementation of agricultural science curriculum; while school farms are to be seen as fields or laboratories for the training of basic education learners, with focus on skills development and self-reliance.
In an exclusive interview with Sunday Fadeni, the Martina teacher of the year 2021 in Ondo state, he said the school can encourage agriculture among that the students, using his school as an example.
He said; “In my school, Fiwasaye Girls Grammar School, the principal brings out of the little fund in the school and mobilizes the agric teachers.
“We attach a certain number of students to some seedlings and poultry birds to nurture. Last December, we produced broilers; we attached three to each group of students and they raised them from a day old to the selling point and we made our money.
“That one gears up students, so that is the system and the approach we use at Fiwasaye Girls Grammar school.
The Agric teacher advised schools to bring back the school farms as it used to be in time past, saying it would not only encourage agriculture among the young but also serve as a source of additional income.
In the same vein, Olubunmi Adewa, an Agric Economist said school farm can promote environmental sustainability. She said that students learn about sustainable farming practices that protect the environment and conserve natural resources stating that such knowledge is vital in promoting the sustainable use of land and other natural resources, which according to her is crucial in ensuring food security in the long term.
According to her; “School farms are excellent ways to secure the future of agriculture. By providing hands-on learning experiences, promoting entrepreneurial skills, and promoting environmental sustainability, school farms can inspire the next generation of farmers, researchers, and policy-makers who will drive the agricultural sector forward” she said
Ibikunle Benson, father of two said Agriculture today is fast-paced, global, diverse, reliant on high-end scientific discovery and increasingly responsive to consumers’ concerns about provenance, ethics and health. Despite all these, agriculture still fails to grip the imagination of many of our brightest students.
According to him; “It is indeed a sorry situation when some school children in Nigeria, a country widely acclaimed for its rich agricultural heritage, do not have the privilege of experiencing practical agriculture during their schooling”
“My 14 years old boy has never been to a farm before, because the school doesn’t have a school farm, a school that has agriculture as a subject, the pupils are just been taught the theory aspect.To curb this problem, the practical aspect of agriculture in the school’s curriculum should be given equal attention as the theory. School farms are not just spaces for growing food items. They are complete learning zones, which largely succeed in taking learning to new heights. It makes the younger generation more interested in agriculture” he lamented
Also, Abidemi Ilori, a civil servant said “As we all know, agriculture is the bedrock of production of food and allied products on which human existence depends, learning the basics of agriculture from the grass root is essential. School farm in schools plays an important role in securing the future of agriculture in Nigeria, as we can all see, not so many youths are interested in farming because they were not taught from the basics, but if it is embedded in them at the early stages through school farm, the future of agriculture is secured” he said
Fisayo Ehindero, an entrepreneur, in his submission, said,’ “Over the years, we have discovered that most pupils in Nigerian schools lack access to training and education on farming and therefore are not being encouraged to perceive agriculture as a future career. Therefore, school farms should be initiated, where students would be shown how to grow high-value crops, keep livestock and how to market produce for global markets. With this, the future of agriculture is in safe hands and we have nothing to worry about” he said
On the contrary, Olumide Ogunleye, a teacher and education administrator, said school farming is no longer popular, because there is a generational gap between teachers who engaged in school farming then and teachers of today.
“Teachers can only impact what they know, and since today’s teachers do not even have any practical knowledge of farming, how can they teach the students? He asked.
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