The Oyo State Government has disclosed that no fewer that 168,450 pupils will benefit from the state’s Home Grown Feeding programme, an initiative of the federal government.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi made this known on Friday at the official launch of the programme held at the House of Chiefs, Ibadan.
Ajimobi who was represented by his deputy, Chief Moses Alake Adeyemo noted that 2,408 public primary schools and 2,578 medically certified fit and trained vendors would be engaged during the programme.
He explained that the programme which was part of the Federal Government’s social intervention scheme aimed at aiding the provision of basic education through feeding was a welcome development, especially during this period of recession when three square meals had become increasingly rare in the homes of people.
Ajimobi said that a report by the Food Consumption and Nutrition Survey in Nigeria captured the poor nutritional status of Nigerian children by revealing that 42% of Nigerian children are stunted, 25% underweight, 29.55 suffer from Vitamin A deficiency while over 27% are at different stages of iron and iodine deficiency.
He stressed that the decision of the state to embrace the school feeding programme was a further demonstration of his administration’s commitment to tackling the problem of malnutrition among school age children in the state.
He pointed out that food items for the programme would be bought locally with attendant benefits to local farmers and the whole community which will enhance the sustainability of the programme.
While thanking the Federal Government for the laudable initiative, Ajimobi posited that the AgricOyo initiative of the Oyo State government had no doubt come at the right time considering its potential contributions to the success of the Home Grown school feeding programme.
“It is apt to note that the Oyo State Agricultural initiative (also known as AgricOyo) which was recently put in place by our administration, is aimed at providing food for all, as well as creating employment opportunities and reducing dependence on food importation,” Governor Ajimobi said.
Coordinator of the programme in the state Mrs. Adekunle Folasade said that the Federal Government would feed primary 1-3 pupils of public primary schools of one adequate meal per day at the rate of N70 per child.
He added that the initiative was meant to achieve the dual objectives of increasing national food production and ensure that school children had adequate nutrition.
She said that the school feeding programme would serve as excellent safety net, boost production of homegrown foods by encouraging small scale farming, increase retention and completion rate of primary school pupils and improve nutritional status of primary school pupils.
The Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Professor Adeniyi Olowofela implored all stakeholders to leave no stone unturned in ensuring the success of the programme in the state, explaining that the government cannot be physically present everywhere.
He said, “We are major stakeholders in our various offices, classrooms and even in market places. We should, therefore, work together to build a nation where peace and justice reign.”