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The Lagos State Coconut Development Authority, LASCODA, in collaboration with Rotary Club of Eko Atlantic and Tolaram Group, has began coconut tree planting in 120 Senior and Junior Secondary Schools in the state.

During the flag-off ceremony on Thursday,  6th July, 2023 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.

He further disclosed that the club was targeting coconut planting in schools to inculcate in students the importance of the crop and get them interested in the practice.

In his words, “We decided to take up this project as one of our major sustainable projects going forward, which started in 2022 with our Club Immediate Past President, 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 their benefits. As Rotary Club, we are committed to doing community services. This is one of the seven areas of focus in our club”.

“We hope the students will learn the benefits and equally hope that the teachers will support this project for it to grow in a bigger way in Lagos. In environmental greenery, it will benefit Lagos residents by producing coconut oil, coconut milk, and other side benefits; nothing is a waste in coconut. Everything is useful,” he said.

For his part, 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 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 Group backing us financially and with 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.

According to her, the initiative is 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 the venture holds great significance, noting that the project would provide a unique opportunity for young minds to learn about the life cycle of coconut trees.

Yusuf added that the students 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.

“The coconut, aptly referred to as “the tree of life” embodies immense economic and environmental benefits that we can not 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 the maturity stage.

In her words, “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.

In his part, Mr. Dapo Olakulehin, General Manager of LASCODA , said the purpose of involving the schools was to promote the sustainable development of the coconut subsector and connect the students to the future.

He noted that LASCODA has been implementing other initiatives to stimulate the development of the coconut subsector to contribute significantly to making Lagos State a 21st-century economy.

According to him, the initiative would help in sustaining the tradition of planting coconut trees among the youth and instilling the culture through value addition such as processing into various economically viable products.

The LASCODA Boss said the project was not limited to only secondary schools, adding that it would be extended to every nook and cranny of the state as was the practice in the past.

He thanked Rotary Club and Tolaram Group for providing financial support for the execution of the project and LASCODA team for technical support.

About The Author

Rasaq Oke

Rasaq Oke hold a Bachelor of Science (B. Sc.) Honours degree in Food Science & Technology from the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife. He is a seasoned Food Technologist and Agribusiness expert with wide and rich industry experience that cut across reputable organization like Guinness Plc, Crown Cork and Seal, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals (now Neimeth Pharmaceuticals), Livestock Feeds Plc. and Tantalizers Plc. He is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of FOODDOTCOMACADEMY SERVICES, Managing Consultant with RESPITALITY CARE COMPANY (RCC), and Publisher/ CEO of FOODPRENEURS PUBLISHING COMPANY, the publisher of FOODPRENEURNEWS, a print and online food magazine ( Mr. Oke is an accomplished food entrepreneur, consultant, administrator, instructor, and facilitator. He is a member of the Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) and the Head,-Editorial Board of the NIFST Food Forum Magazine; An Executive Member of the Nigeria Association of Agricultural Journalist (NAAJ). He is an Full Member and Secretary of the Membership, Certification and Education Committee of the Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute of Training and Development (NITAD). He a a Media and Communication Consultant to the Lagos State Fadama Coordination Office (SFCO) and the Lagos State Coconut Development Authority (LASCODA) in addition to being a Technical Partner to the Lagos State Consumer Protection Authority (LASCOPA). He is married with children and loves playing table tennis as well as travelling.

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