• The federal government of Nigeria has unveiled a $300 million-project targeting young graduates interested in farming across the country.

    The Enable Youth Empowerment Agribusiness Programme’ is a partnership between the African Development Bank (AfDB), Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and is a long-term solution to unemployment among the youth in the West African Country. It will be implemented within 18 months.

    According to the Nation, national, newspaper AfDB’s Director of Agriculture and Agroindustry, Chiji Ojukwu disclosed this information, recently in a top level meeting with Nigeria’s agricultural authorities, in Abuja.

    “A total of US $300 million would be accessed to cover the three-year project which would bring young graduates together and train them for 18 months as entrepreneur farmers,” Ojukwu said

    Once implemented, the project will create 250, 000 jobs with beneficiaries accessing training at various incubation centers on all aspects of value chains, with each beneficiary of the project supported with about US $75,000.

    The Agriculture Minister, Chief Audu Ogbeh revealed that the project would commence from the three Federal Universities of Agriculture in, Umudike, Makurdi and Abeokuta, in a statement by the ministry’s Director of Information, Tony Ohaeri.

    Chief Ogbeh said that the “project would cover the 36 states including the FCT, while the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) would be expanded through the processing zones.”

    The rate of unemployment in Nigeria, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), as of the second quarter of 2015 had risen to 8.2% from 7.5% which was recorded in the preceding quarter.

    Commenting on the importance of youth in a country, the minister said that, “we need to take care of them before they take care of us,” emphasizing that that the strength of a nation lies in the population of the youth.

    For this reason, there is need to create more platforms for young people to access employment opportunities. He further urged the government to re-invent its own economic strategy to revive the economy.

    During the presentation of the concept note on the youth agriculture scheme by AfDB and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Mr Ogbeh said the ministry was ready to collaborate with the representatives. However, the Minister directed IITA to intensify efforts towards researching into the conversion of cassava leaves into animal feeds, while some components of the Labour Intensive Family Enterprise (LIFE) of the ministry could be built into the youth empowerment initiative

    IITA Director-General, Nterayana Saginga, called for a change in the mindset of the young graduates, saying that the IITA’s experiment in the past on young unemployed graduates revealed that they could make good turn over on their investments. He pledged the readiness of IITA to provide necessary support to the ministry.

    Moreover, the Agriculture Minister reminded the three universities of agriculture to revert back to the provisions of the Act that established them.

    Efforts to revive agriculture and in particular among the youth have been adopted by many governmental and non-governmental agencies. In two days-time (16th January) QM Farms Limited has organized a forum between 1-3 pm to discuss on a range of topics including: investors perspective and value chain in Nigeria Agriculture, technology in Nigeria Agriculture and youth involvement in Agriculture. This will be held at Bar Enclave, no 1 Adeola Adeleye Street, Lagos.