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Re-directing the minds of the youth through agriculture

13 August 2015, 16:05

Globally, the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger has always been in the front burner of issues that the comity of nations forges common front around, even in the UN partnership for development initiatives. Even in the MDGs, the issue occupies number one position in the specific strategies proposed for accelerating the Millennium Development Goals: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

For the MDGs, a phenomenon agreed by a record 189 countries at the UN General Assembly in September 2000 and which expires this 2015, extreme poverty and hunger means, among others identifying the most effective mechanisms and interventions, investment plans, priorities and choices, also addressing the critical challenges and gaps which account for average to slow progress in accelerating the growth of the economy and ensuring a stable macroeconomic environment.

These among several other well thought out strategies, are the modes of operation of the African Youth Empowerment in Agriculture and industrial Development (AYEAID), and also keying into the MDGS strategies for accelerating progress, among which are: professionalizing agriculture to attract youths and new graduates in the area of production, processing and marketing, breeding and distributing high-yielding and disease-resistant species of crops, livestock and fish, the AYEAID has hit the ground running.

Also Read: PDP sees no reason to celebrate global Youth Day

In a chat which our Principal Features Writer, Ijeoma Umeh, the Board Chairperson of AYEAID, Musa Salihu Bawa Bosso, stated that an all inclusive economy is one that considers the overall interest of its most active and even volatile generation, the youth.

The Gbagy, Niger State indigene was born and brought up in Bosso Local Government Area of Minna in Niger State, and attended Dr. Yahaya Bawa Bosso Primary School, Bosso Secondary School also in Minna, Studied Maths/Geography at NCE level in the Niger State College of Education Minna, acquired an HND in Physics and Electronics at the University of Jos, also had a post-graduate Diploma in Business Development Technology at the Federal University of Technology Minna, Niger State and a Diploma in Mass Communication at the Justice Fati Abubakar College of Art and Science, Minna.

The former SSA to Niger State Government in Students’ Affairs, and member transition Committee from civil to civil also once aspired to be local government chairman in his state. He is an advocate of peace, unity and development, and a philanthropist. He is also a member of several NGOs, CBOs and a farmer.

What is AYEAID all about?

AYEAID is the African Youth Empowerment in Agriculture and Industrial Development.
The organisation is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), in 2011 and I was appointed as the Chairman BOT to Niger State and it all started in Niger State with me as a testing ground and its head office is in Niger State too, the success story are as it is today.

What informed the formation of the organisation?

We have observed critically that for any developmental strategies, especially as it affects the sub-Saharan region, to be meaningful, the inclusion of youth development in many perspectives is paramount. As such, three years ago we came up with initiatives as projects and programmes to develop society, especially the youth, women and those left without care and support; the international organisation took a holistic survey of the environment and was abreast with the challenges fostering under-development, insecurity, insincerity, unemployment and inadequate direction. These challenges are capable of cursing, aside the aforementioned, hunger, unproductivity as well as tendencies towards disunity, redundancy, terrorism, restiveness, drug abuse/addiction, prostitution, cultism, kidnappings, thuggery, disrespect to elderly and constituted authority, advanced fee fraud (419), smuggling, street begging, armed robbery, pick pocketing, rumour mongering and ignorant followership.

What are the adopted strategies?

It is basically to redirect people into meaningful venture, especially the youths, in agriculture, industry and education for self reliance and entrepreneurship, for their survival, self-worth, self sufficiency self-pride and sense of dignity for better lively hood.

How do you put all that into perspective considering costs and funding?On agriculture we are raising the interest of our youth in agriculture as a career and business. There are trainings and skill acquisition in poultry farming livestock and fisheries, animal husbandry and  increased crop yield, the cheap irrigation and other methods of farming and backyard farming for survival, job and wealth creation.

For the industrial aspect, we have skill acquisition on tailoring, auto mobile, woodwork and fabrication, catering services, beads making, cosmetics and fragrance, knitting, make overs, hairdressing and barbing as a tool to curb social vices and insecurity, even economic insecurity.
In the area of education, we also have skill acquisition in ICT, various sensitization programmes, advocacy, guidance and counseling, mentorship, leadership training and self-discovery for purposeful living and livelihood for good service delivery always of course, funding is a concern but the interest and well being of the youth supercedes that.

What catchment period or lifespan would the program run its course?

After a holistic survey of the environment, the organization came up with a 3 year work plan and 3 years monitoring, feedback mechanism embedded in all the programs and projects for their sustainability starting with mobilization, verification, sensitization, training in skill acquisition, with total package of guidance and counselling.

What indicators are used to identity those who would be empowered?

The organization was able to mobilise over 10,000 bee nectarine across the 25 local government areas of Niger State, and we used various indicators to identify the needy. The indicators for selection process included data of persons that are not meaningfully engaged from youth chambers, mosques, churches, markets, motor parks and garages, government ministries, departments and agencies, elites, politicians, related and sister NGOs, CBOs, social and cultural groups in the society.

Also Read: Kano outlines programmes to uplift youth

How has the youth in the catchment area responded to AYEAID? And how would you rate youth unemployment in Nigeria considering the number of youths who have embraced the initiative?

So far, the organization has trained over six thousand youths in various skills. The youths have embraced and even owned the project and programs as their own career and business for their survival  and conformity with skill based entrepreneurship for employment and wealth creation.

Actually, and without doubt, the rate of youth unemployment are high these days, but AYEAID had critically separated the levels of youth unemployment in the following categories. Number one, redundant youths, two, lazy and unskilled graduates without jobs; and three; youths with skills but no support, therefore we are particular with those who don’t have support or care; the highly vulnerable.

Is the Niger State government

Blue-print on agriculture youth friendly?

Agreed, Niger State is an agrarian state with all the needed climate locations for production of food and enhancement of food security, but the interests of youth in agriculture is still considerably low. So we are raising their interests and to see how we can tap into it as a veritable tool to assist them in their quest for independence, self-reliance, employment and to also enable them become employers of labour. Our efforts in Niger State is no doubt going to raise the percentage to at least fifty. So far we have trained over six thousand youths in various skills.
The erstwhile Minister of Agriculture, now AfDB President, Dr. Adesina was acclaimed to have contributed meaningfully to the development of the agricultural sector, what are the key areas where you envisage the Buhari-led administration would need to still improve upon?.
The former minister did well in terms of sustainable growth in food production and security, but the link between the local producers and government was missing. Our efforts as an NGO is to provide those linkages for development. We are proud of his new appointment and wish him success at the bank. As for the President, Muhammadu Buhari, he should concentrate on the local needs of the people in funding agricultural and allied activities in Nigeria.

Where do you envisage that AYEAID would be in ten years from now?

We envisage that in ten years from now youth challenges are reduced with our empowerment offers and efforts. There would be minimum percentage of unemployment, redundancy and social vices. This is why our flagship project is youth empowerment solution to insecurity; the YESTI plan project is charged with solving the several youth challenges as well as societal and other critical human problems in the society through advocacies and initiatives that have far reaching benefits. We consider our support services to the society as very good service delivery to aid development through sensitizations, SMEs, microfinance to small traders and business, guidance and counselling as initiatives that will remain ever green

- MyNews24

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