By Peter Okutu
Food Security Capstone students of the School of Politics, Policy and Governance (SPPG), has formally launched its capstone project titled “Operation Feed My Family’” at the Delight International School, Olodi-Apapa in Lagos.
The event, which showcased the activities of students of the Delight International School in line with the ‘trash to treasure’ theme of the Capstone campaign, highlighted the progress made so far on the project commissioned in the school a few weeks earlier.
Intimating the audience at the launch about the objectives and goals of the capstone project, Mr. Oluwasegun Adeniyi-James, a member of the Capstone team enumerated the urgent need for the project as it is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on Zero Hunger and Climate Change.
He pointed out that the constraints of land evidenced in Lagos due to its ultra-urban nature shaped the design of the project adding that the population explosion projected for Nigeria, its developing urban cities and the imperative for food security corroborated the urgent need to galvanise the populace to avert the impending crisis.
Further in his presentation, Mr. Adeniyi-James called everyone present to take up the challenge of engaging with urban farming in however small ways; to plant crops for their domestic needs using discarded plastic containers that end up in landfills that further degrade our environment.
Pictorial examples of executed household farming by using spaces on balconies to backyards and finding alternative uses with various medium of sacks, pots, tyres, buckets to indoor vertical farming were shown to call the audience to action and participate in the project at their individual level.
Speaking at the event, representative of the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs. J. E. Balogun encouraged the students to be actively involved in farming in their backyard to augment the cost of living in their various homes, thereby saving cost for their parents.
Accordingly to her, the future of Nigeria is dependent on its ability to produce enough food for its growing population, of which they (students) are an important part. And that whatever career they intend to pursue in future, they will still need food to grow and remain active.
She called on the host school, and other invited schools to evolve the “Agric Club” in their schools to showcase the importance of agriculture and encourage interest in farming from an early age.
Also, Mr. Olusola Malomo, representing the State Nutrition Officer, Mrs. Ibraheem from the Lagos State Ministry of Health, Department of Nutrition, appreciated the SPPG and the Food Security Capstone team for the initiative, adding that the project couldn’t have come at a better time than now due to the double burden of malnutrition and food insecurity prevalent in most families.
He encouraged the students to see themselves as agents of change and the leaders of tomorrow even as he challenged them to see themselves as providers of solutions to the various challenges facing the nation, since the essence of education is to solve societal problems.
Mrs. Christiana Njemanze, the Chairperson of the Delight School’s Parents Teachers Association (PTA) presented the prizes to six winners among the students, whose essays were adjudged best among the over one hundred entries to the Essay Competition on Food Security declared by the Food Security Capstone team during the commissioning of the project in the school.
The School of Politics Policy and Governance (SPPG) represented at the event by Ms. Roberta Okereke, further charged the students to approach pursuing potential careers in food security and nutrition with open minds taking into account the associated and multidisplinary possibilities across the food systems domains and agricultural value chain.
She applauded the six awardees of the essay competition on food security and nutrition and all the students who filed in their entries for demonstrating leadership at their level.
Ms. Roberta Okereke, promised that the winning entries will be showcased on the SPPG website as soon as they receive the copies.
At the event, guests were given a tour of the garden cultivated within the school premises despite lack of space for such exercise.
Vanguard gathered that the crops planted by the students with the assistance of the agricultural teacher, Mrs. Amatam, were already doing very well on the vertical racks provided by the Capstone students as space-saving method to achieving crop cultivation in such land constraint environment.
The Food Security Capstone team at the event also announced another challenge called the “Best Harvest Competition”.
The competition will be judged at the end of the project in August as it is opened to individual students from the Delight International School and the invited schools present at the launch.
It was gathered that everyone entering the competition must show the weekly progress of their crops from the point of planting to final entry into the competition at the end of the period in August. This is to ensure that all entries have their records in the competition till the end.
Dr. Victor Ajieroh, a member of the Food Security Capstone team coordinated the activities during the launch and amplified the guiding philosophy of the project centered on the understanding that small actions could lead to a big difference.
He noted that a ‘do nothing’ scenario was not be acceptable even in the face of the evolving challenge of household food and nutrition security.
‘Operation Feed My Family’ is a theme developed by the Food Security Capstone Team in line with the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched programme to build Green Cities as a way to combat Food Insecurity as evidenced at the onset of the Covid 19 global pandemic, especially across cities.
‘Operation Feed My Family’ is expected to help school children engage around growing commonly consumed fruits and vegetables in schools, and encourage them to replicate same in their homes and communities with necessary support.
“This will encourage nutrition sensitive agricultural production and motivate associated learning and nutrition education among participating schools, families and communities.
“Another important component of the project is the ‘trash to treasure’ concept of the project to promote alternative utility for used plastic, tyres, buckets and other discarded bases as planting media, thereby encouraging environmental consciousness among the growing student populations.
‘Operation Feed My Family’ is collaborating with the Delight International Secondary School, Olodi-Apapa Lagos State and the Government Secondary School, Wuse, FCT Abuja, to realize the initiative.
According the Lagos Team Lead of the project, Mrs. Olaoluwa Makinde, “We are working with students and relevant staff of the schools to demonstrate our concepts of urban and community based farming”.
She said. “Our group is working on one of the Sustainable Development Goals – Zero Hunger. Our particular interest is to create awareness, stir up interest and catalyze simple actions that can contribute to improving individual and household food and nutrition security”, Mrs. Olaoluwa Makinde further stated.
“The School of Politics, Policy and Governance (SPPG) – an affiliate program of the FixPolitics initiative based in Abuja, is an unconventional school designed to attract, develop and produce a new generation of political leaders committed to advancing sustainable multi-sectoral development in Nigeria.”
“As part of the SPPG school program curriculum, the students are to complete a community focused capstone project in several areas anchored on the SDG goal, which Food Security is one. The Capstone projects are vehicles for students on the program to initiate and provide meaningful contributions to areas of their interest within defined local communities.”