Our first major project was the Trainee Farm Managers pilot project organised in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, from 3rd August to 11th September 2020. The project was a two-pronged initiative to train Farm Managers at no cost to them while at the same time opening up 4 hectares of farmland at Odopotu, Eruwon, and one hectare of farmland at LEKRIS Farms, Ikofa, Ijebu Ode.
On Monday, 3rd August, 2020, the following trainees showed up: Mrs. Abosede Oludayo Akin-Taiwo, Mr. Bello Olatunji Shafi, Mrs. Oluwakemi Ogunleye, Mr. Gbenga Lanre Adekoya, Mr. Abiodun Olawale Balogun, Mr. Sherif Okunuga, Mr. Dupe Onabanjo, Mr. Kehinde Oluyoye, Mr. Adeolu Ogunbanjo, Mr. Yisa Gafar, Mr. Olatunji Bello, Mr. Rotimi Olukoga, Mr. Wakil O. Amuludun, Mr. Adebola Adeusi and Mr. Abiodun Bello Taofeek. A trained nurse conducted medical check on the participants and facilitators before the start of proceedings, everyone wore COVID-19 compliant masks and social distancing was rigorously observed. Otunba Tope Ogunnowo, Head of Business Committee, declared the Training open after briefing the participants on the vision and mission of Yoruba Ko’ya. Thereafter the training commenced in earnest on August 3, 2020; and ended on August 28, 2020.
The four days a week training empowered the Farm Managers with farming skills in snail rearing and vegetable production with attention paid to equipping them to be trainers in their turn. Topics covered included the various species of snails, their natural habitats, pens for snail farming, intensive production methods for high productivity vegetable production, soil suitability and land preparation, seeds, sowing and transplanting, the interrelationships between snail rearing and vegetable production. While some modest amount of live snail rearing practical was done, the dry spell in August was an off season for snails acquisition so actual rearing of snails could not be started. However, trainees underwent extensive practicals in vegetable production starting with assisted land clearing, preparation, creation of mini nursery beds for “shombo”, eggplant, tomato and “ewedu”. Direct planting of “ugu” was also begun.
Every fifth day of the week was spent learning Apiary or Beekeeping with the very successful Beekeeper, Mr. Tunde Oreyemi. Yoruba Ko’ya provided the trainees with five beekeeping costumes and LEKRIS Farm loaned the team another two. Thereafter the Managers went on hands-on learning visits to the modest bees colony in LEKRIS, and the more established apiaries in Oke Lamuren, Ogbo belonging to one of the trainees and Odo Epo where the Oreyemis have maintained a large thriving apiary across two generations. The Farm Managers learnt the ecological importance of bees to plants and to man, the advantages of beekeeping over traditional honey hunting, the structured and marvelous colonies of bees, bee hive products both primary and secondary as food, drinks, medicine and cosmetics (beeswax cream, soap, honey wine). Participants were taught to experience and overcome the fear of bee stings, handle beekeeping tools, and distinguish between pure and adulterated honey.