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Agricultural transformation key to youth empowerment

07 October 2014, 20:05

Abuja - The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Dr Stephen Oru, on Tuesday said that a successful execution of the transformation agenda in agriculture would enhance youth empowerment in the country.

Oru made the assertion when he spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

He said that a major agenda of the Federal Government's Agriculture Transformation was the development of youths through remodelling of the nation's agriculture sector.

The minister said the high rate of unemployment in Nigeria would soon be tackled because the President Goodluck Jonathan-led government was ready to battle unemployment through agriculture.

"We are concerned about the high rate of unemployment, the high rural to urban migration and the lack of industrial growth in our rural areas.

"With the aging of the farming population, something has to be done to engage the youth in agriculture or else there will be no farmers to feed Nigeria in years to come,'' the minister said.

Oru said the ministry’s objective on agriculture was to empower youths through imparting knowledge, skills and technology in agriculture to them.

"The areas of specialisation includes crop production, machinery, food preservation and aquaculture. 

"These include livestock- piggeries, poultry, basic finance and small business structures.

"There will also be train the trainer capacities and knowledge transfer methods and leadership and capacity building.

"The beneficiaries on completion of training will be given a token sum as startup capital as well as basic equipment,’’ he said.

The minister said the challenges experienced in getting some of the trainees employed after completion of the training informed the review of the ministry’s programmed in 2013.

"The idea is to shift focus from just providing training to obtaining assurance from the trainers for their employment after graduation,’’ he said.

 Oru said the Phase II of the programme was therefore geared towards the realisation of the ministry's new focus. 

One hundred youths who were trained in Israel on return are to train 22 other youths in Nigeria under the supervision of the Israeli Agricultural Expects for a period of one year.

"This exercise will simultaneously take place in the nine states of the Niger Delta region.

"At the end of the programme, a total of 2,200 skilled community farmers would have been trained across the region. 

"By the end of their training, there will be a provision of micro-credit loans by the Bank of Agriculture," he said.

Oru said the programme would resolve certain socio-economic challenges in the region.

"It will lead to job creation, income generation, reduction in crime and youth restiveness, reduction in rural to urban drift and promote self-sufficiency in food production.

"Participants will also have easier access to credit facilities considering their aggregate farm land and the strength of the group,’’ Oru said.

 - NAN



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