As part of cost-cutting measures, several boarding schools across the country are now leveraging their farms to feed students amid escalating food prices.
Some school operators who spoke with BusinessDay said they do so to reduce pressure on parents and as a cost-cutting measure.
Bolanle Isinguzo, a former student of Mayflower School, Ikenna-Remo in Ogun State, said the school has a farm project as part of extracurricular activities for the students that also serve as an avenue to curtail spending for dormitory needs for the students.
“It was part of the school’s extracurricular activities used to educate the students on farming. Besides, it’s an avenue to curtail spending for market produce – in the sense that all produce was used to feed the students,” she said.
Isinguzo disclosed that the Mayflower School’s farm project encompasses a comprehensive farming scheme excluding fishery.
Blessing Ema, an educational technology expert, disclosed how school farms have helped Beulah International School, Ekom in Akwa Ibom State which runs a full boarding school with a big school farm to navigate the mounting food costs.
“We planted vegetables we used for cooking for students. During the dry season when vegetables are costly, we water the farm and the vegetables help us to augment the cost of feeding,” she said.
According to Ema, students are made to plant corn and cucumber, among others, which the school harvests and uses to cook meals for the students instead of buying in the market.
“We also have a poultry farm; the eggs from the poultry are used for students as eggs are usually expensive,” she said.
An official of a big school who declined to be identified told BusinessDay that for many months, the school has not bought some food items but has relied on its farm.
He said: “Since November, we have not bought a single plantain to feed our boarding students. We just harvested over 400 tubers of yam, which our students in agriculture cultivated.
“We are enjoying organically produced food, which has helped to reduce the cost of feeding our students. We even sell eggs from our farms because our children make enough vegetables even during off seasons.”
The Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (LASUBEB), as part of its efforts to encourage children to develop a passion for agriculture and farming entrepreneurship skills, introduced school farms in primary schools as part of the extracurricular activities.
Ayo Ajalogun, deputy director in charge of the Agricultural Education Training Programme (AETP), LASUBEB, said: “The Lagos State government contracted five poultry farms with 180 birds per school, veterinary medicine and feeding of the birds for four months.
“As of now, the schools have completed the first harvesting period, ready to start the second rearing season. The pupils can acquire knowledge of the rearing of layers and production of eggs as a source of protein.”
The schools that benefitted from the project are Local Government Primary, Ipakodo, Ikorodu; Methodist Primary School, Gberigbe, Ikorodu; Community Primary School 2, Egan-Alimosho; Obele Odan Primary School, Surulere; and R.C.M Primary School, Ketu Epe.
The price of major food items has significantly increased across the country, and households are grappling with the high cost of goods and services.
The cost of filling a 12.5kg cylinder of gas increased by 44 percent in October 2023, selling for an average of N13,750, BusinessDay findings show.
The current price of a 50kg bag of rice has gone up, while the price of garri tripled.
The average price of a 50kg bag of foreign rice in Nigeria today is N55,000, while the average price of a 25kg (half) bag of foreign rice is N28,000.
The average price of a 50kg bag of Nigerian rice today is N50,000, while the average price of a 25kg (half) bag of Nigerian rice is N25,000.
The National Bureau of Statistics report showed that the food inflation rate quickened to 33.93 percent in December, compared 23.75 percent a year earlier.