Governor Rauf Aregbesola will today, 19th May, 2014 unveil his highly rated school feeding programme, O’MEALS, in Abuja where governors, ministers and international experts will gather to share his administration’s experiences for the benefits of farmers, community and Nigerian pupils.
Soon after this summit, Governor Aregbesola is expected to play host to state governments who are keen to learn from the Osun O’MEALS experience to achieve a sustainable implementation strategy for all-round benefits of stakeholders.
Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who is expected to be one of the keynote speakers at the parley, is expected to share the experiences of his administration with other states and Federal Government on how to achieve an integrated benefit chain for farmers to enjoy maximum advantages from the school feeding programme.
On 22nd January, 2014, Governor Aregbesola had, through the invitation of the Partnership for Child’s Development in conjunction with Imperial College, London, addressed the Parliament of the United Kingdom on the successes recorded by his administration on the school feeding programme.
Apart from Governor Aregbesola, his Kano State counterpart, Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwanso; the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina; Minister of Health, Professor Chukwu Onyebuchi; Education Minister, Barrister Nyesom Wike; will also deliver keynote speeches at the occasion.
On the international scene, leading experts from the Imperial College, London, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, World Bank and World Food Programme are also expected to share their international expertise with the gathering for the benefit of the Nigerian child.
In order to share from the Osun experience and build on it, the Minister of Education, Barrister Nyesom Wike, with support from the Vitol Foundation, has invited his counterparts from the Ministries of Agriculture and Health, the Governors from Osun State and Kano State and development partners including the Partnership for Child Development, the World Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to discuss how best to support other Nigerian states looking to benefit from HGSF programmes.
Described as a win-win situation for children and smallholder farmers alike, Home Grown School Feeding programmes, as implemented for hundreds of thousands of pupils in Osun Elementary Schools, provide hot fresh nutritious meals using ingredients procured from local smallholder farmers.
The programme which dates back to 2004 when 13 states of Nigeria implemented HGSF as a pilot programme, regrettably remained in only two states of Osun and Kano after a decade of its operation.
Till date, only the states of Osun and Kano, are still feeding their school children just as its impact of 28 per cent jump in primary school enrolment in addition to the creation of over 3,000 new jobs under the Aregbesola administration become the high points of state level experiences to be shared at the meeting. Only Osun has kept the scale in which the scheme is implemented.
The Osun State Government’s development of school feeding has benefited from the technical advice and support provided by Imperial College London’s Partnership for Child Development (PCD). PCD in partnership with the World Bank and WFP has been providing directed, evidence based support for the design and management of school feeding programmes linked to agricultural production.
While speaking about the summit, Dr. Lesley Drake,the Executive Director of the Partnership for Child’s Development (PCD) said,
“The meeting is an excellent example of high level inter-ministerial collaboration at the federal and state level to design sustainable school feeding programmes which will improve the lives of children and smallholder farmers across the country”.
Immediately following this meeting a technical workshop in Osun, hosted by the state Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, will be held for states that are keen to learn from Osun’s expertise in running sustainable HGSF programmes.