By Olayinka Olawale
Lagos, July 6, 2023 (NAN) The Lagos State Coconut Development Authority LASCODA in collaboration with Rotary Club of Eko Atlantic and Tolaram Group, on Thursday, began coconut tree planting in 120 senior and junior secondary schools in the state.
Speaking at the flag-off ceremony at Unity Junior Secondary, Oshodi, Education District VI, Mr Sadananda Melanta, President, Rotary Club of Eko Atlantic, said the initiative was part of the club’s tree plantation project.
Melanta said that the club was embarking on coconut planting in schools to teach students the importance of the crop and spur their interest in it.
“We decided to take up this project as one of our major sustainable projects going forward which started in 2022 with our immediate past President, Mr Gboyega Bada.
“As the new President, it is my responsibility to take it up and continue with the project.
“We have chosen schools to distribute coconut so that the students will learn the importance of coconut trees and its benefits.
“As Rotary Club, we are committed to do community services, this is one of our seven area of focus in our club.
“We hope the students will learn the benefits and hope that the teachers will support this for it to grow in a bigger way in Lagos.
“In environmental greenery, it will benefit Lagos resident by producing coconut oil, coconut milk and other side benefits; nothing is waste in coconut, everything is useful,” he said.
Mr Gboyega Bada, the immediate past President of Rotary Club of Eko Atlantic and Representative of Tolaram Group, owner of Lagos Free Trade Zone, said Tolaram was providing financial support for the initiative.
They initiated this idea of planting of coconut schools as the best way to reinvigorate the lost glory of the crop.
“The initial idea for us in Rotary Club of Eko Atlantic is to plant 10,000 coconut yearly and so far, we have planted 5,000 trees and still counting.
“The new president is going to pursue this for the next five years and we have Tolaram backing us financing it and other individuals.
“We hope that the students will take advantage of this opportunity to learn something about coconut and its importance to Lagos,” he said.
In her remarks, Dr Sherifat Yusuf, Tutor- General/Permanent Secretary, Education District VI, Oshodi, commended LASCODA, Rotary Club of Eko Atlantic and Tolaram Group for the initiative.
Yusuf said that the initiative would provide a platform for the students on self-discovery, empowerment, and environmental stewardship.
She noted that through the project, students would not only contribute to economic stability but also drive the sustainable development of the coconut sub-sector in Lagos State.
She added that the initiative aimed at empowering students and instilling in them the values associated with the cultivation and utilisation of coconut trees.
Yusuf noted that the decision to involve secondary schools in this endeavour holds great significance.
She added that the project would provide a unique opportunity for young minds to learn about the life cycle of coconut trees.
Yusuf said they would learn from germination to growth, and to appreciate the interconnectedness between their efforts today and the bountiful benefits they would reap in the future.
According to her, by incorporating coconut tree planting into our educational institutions, we are fostering a deeper understanding of our cultural heritage and promoting entrepreneurial skills among our students.
“The coconut, aptly referred to as “the tree of life,” embodies immense economic and environmental benefits that we cannot afford to overlook.
“I am delighted to note that through the concerted efforts of LASCODA and its partners, particularly the Rotary Club of Eko Atlantic and Tolaram Group, we are witnessing a resurgence of interest in the sustainable development of the coconut value chain.
“This collaborative approach is a testament to our commitment to creating a 21st-century economy that is diversified and environmentally conscious, in line with the developmental agenda of our present administration,” she said.
Yusuf urged the teachers and students to take ownership of the coconut within the school premises by maintaining and nurturing them to maturity stage.
“To the students, I urge you to embrace this opportunity wholeheartedly.
“By planting these coconut trees and engaging in the processing and commercialisation of coconut, you are embarking on a journey of self-discovery, empowerment, and environmental stewardship.
“In a few years’ time, as you witness the growth of the trees you have planted, you will be able to proudly say, “I planted that coconut tree,” and reap the rewards of your efforts.
Earlier, Mr Dapo Olakulehin, LASCODA General Manager, said the purpose was to promote the sustainable development of the coconut subsector and connect the students to the future.
Olakulehin said that LASCODA had been implementing other initiatives to stimulate the development of the coconut subsector to contribute significantly in making Lagos State a 21st century economy.
He noted that the initiative would help to ensure the sustainability of the tradition of planting coconut trees among the youth and instill the culture through value addition such as processing into various economically viable products.
Olakulehin said that the agency would embark on coconut planting in primary, secondary, tertiary as well as private and government owned establishments to drive productivity.
He said that the project was not be limited to only secondary schools adding that it would be extended every nook and cranny of the state as obtained in the past.
Olakulehin thanked Rotary Club and Tolaram Group for providing financial support for the execurtion of the project and LASCODA team for technical support.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 20 selected schools from Ikeja, Mushin and Oshodi Isolo zones benefitted from the tree planting, and received the seedlings.
Oshodi/Isolo zone include Ejigbo Junior High School, Bolade Junior Grammar School, Ilamoye Junior Grammar School, Ikeja Junior College, Unity Senior High, Bolade Senior Grammar School and others. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng