Hebron Heights College came first at the maiden edition of Pan Africa Senior Secondary School Agricultural Debate (PASSSAD), which was held at Vision House, No. 7 Hitech Road, beside Lagos Business School, off Lekki-Epe Express Way, Lagos, Nigeria.
Ten schools were featured in the leadership development event organised by Africa Agriculture Agenda (AAA), a project of The Surveillance Media Limited.
Good Shepherd Schools and Diadem College emerged first and second runners up respectively.
By this development, the three schools are now the defending champions and will have to defend their respective trophies against top schools in the Lagos leg of PASSSAD.
This same process will be carried out in other states of the federation, with the grand finale in Abuja after the qualifying series across the 36 state.
The organisers put up this event as an avenue to inculcate in the students the spirit of leadership and also instill in them the attitude of embracing agriculture as a panacea to the problem of food insecurity.
Speaking at the event, the Convener, Mr. Nathaniel Akhigbe said, “Hunger is a disease that many people fail to deal with and has killed many as a results of poor ideology of agriculture.
“The United States Department of Agriculture reports that the US agro exports to Nigeria in 2018 stood at $335 million (over N121 billion). Condiments and sauces, corn, prepared food, soya beans, wheat, wine and beer were the agro products that handed US farmers money that could be ours. The case is the same with Europe and China.
“The likely question popping up in your mind now will be what was Nigerian farmers’ agro exports to the US in the same year? A paltry $49 million, a little above N17 billion. By now you know the reason. We can’t even feed ourselves, not to talk of earning FOREX by feeding nations. The current agro trade imbalance between Nigeria and the West will not only remain if you (students) don’t see agriculture as a money spinning business, the situation will get worse in the days ahead.
“Nations are poor or rich depending on who its farmers are, smallholders or commercial farmers. I hope you know that the drug you buy at the pharmacy and your soap and lotion are products of agriculture?
“I challenge all the students and youths here to take a stand for farming for the sake of the reasons I highlighted. This is what we hope to achieve with PASSSAD: to help you see a green future ahead of you with agriculture. PASSSAD also seeks to create academic media content for secondary schooling, by senior secondary school students, for secondary school students and those raising them”, he said.
Also, Dr. Bola Adekoya, former Director of Fisheries, Ogun State applauded the initiative of the organisers and appealed for the need for such an educative and interactive forum to continue.
“This is one event we didn’t have in our time as often as we desire and I will encourage the convener to continue on this platform to get our secondary schools students acquainted on the importance of agriculture“, he maintained.
Mrs. Paulina Adeyeye, Proprietress of Topflight College, one of the schools that took part in the debate, applauded the rare opportunity given to her school at the historic event.
“I am proud to be here today and thank the convener for this great event. It is an eye opener and I will continue to support event like this“.
The maiden edition had seasoned panel of judges with men and women of high esteemed values with vast ideas in agriculture among whom are; Dr. Ikechi Agbugba, Lecturer, Rivers State University and Research Fellow with AAA, Dr. Bola Adekoya, former Director of Fisheries, Ogun State, Mrs. Oluwafunmilola Olusanya, Fellow, Fisheries Society of Nigeria, Vera Ebonhon, Agribusiness Finance, Sterling Bank Plc., and Barrister Nneka Amucheazi, legal practitioner.
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