The Federal Government in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB), has inaugurated the training of 200,000 youths under its Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme Phase 1 (ATASP-1).
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, while inaugurating the National Agribusiness Youth Training Centre in Abuja on Monday, said the youth would be trained on seeds production and processing technology.
Ogbeh said that improved seeds were strategic to the production of food in the country hence the urgent need for the training.
The minister assured the youth of the support of the Federal Government in the disbursement of low interest loans to assist them in agricultural production at the end of the training.
“What we are doing here is what will take us away from why we have been suffering.
“Training on seeds production is strategic because one of the reasons why farmers run away from agriculture is that the seed quality is so poor and the soil management, quality of fertiliser is so bad and the yields are so low.
“We have to encourage you; we are reforming the Bank of Agriculture because one of the challenges experienced by youths is credits.
“We will make sure you have credits; if you have difficulties, we will give you support,’’ the minister said.
Mr Ebrima Faal, the Country Director of AfDB, said the bank was supporting the programme with $150 million for the three staple food of rice, cassava and sorghum production.
Represented by Dr Ibrahim Amadou, the Chief Agricultural Economist at the AfDB, Nigeria, Faal noted that the training was targeted at young farmers, who would take seeds production on rice, sorghum and cassava as a business in their communities.
According to him, the AfDB’s support to agriculture in Nigeria is in line with the government’s Agriculture Promotion Policy (2016-2020).
Faal gave assurance that the bank would continue to support the Federal Government in its agricultural development efforts.
Mr Haruna Akwashiki, the National Programme Coordinator of ATASP-1, said that training would commence concurrently in FCT for cassava, Kano for sorghum and Badeggi, Niger for rice.
He said the objective of the programme was to ensure food and nutrition security, employment generation and wealth creation along the three commodities value chains.
Akwashiki said the programme was also aimed at creating 120,000 jobs, training and empowerment of 200,000 youths and women as well as production of 20,000 tonnes of the key commodity food crops per annum for a period of five years.
“If our youths are meaningfully engaged in agribusiness, the rate of crime in the society will be curtailed.
“Agriculture remains the fastest means of taking idle youths off the streets and this is why ATASP-1 is focusing attention on building the capacity of the youths on agribusiness in line with the Green Alternative of the Federal Government,’’ the coordinator explained.
Dr Gbassey Tarawali, the Head, Abuja Station of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), commended the Federal Government and the AfDB for embarking on the training.
He said that IITA, being one of the implementing partners of the programme, would develop capacity of the youth to ensure increase in improved agricultural seeds.
Some of the participants, who spoke at the event, called on the AfDB and the Federal Government, to replicate the centres in different states of the country to lure more youths and attract more entrants into agriculture.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that ATASP-1 is a programme developed by the AfDB and the Federal Government with seven participating states of Enugu, Anambra, Kano, Kebbi, Jigawa, Niger and Sokoto States. (NAN)