The African Development Bank (AfDB) has disclosed plans to spend about $300 million on the Enable Youth Empowerment Agribusiness Program. The project is to be implemented in partnership with the Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development within 18 months.
AfDB Director of Agricultural and Agro- Allied Industries, Dr. Chudi Ojukwu, said the three-year project would enable training and funding of young graduates, who are interested in farming across the country. The program is expected to encourage youths into agriculture, thereby increasing food sufficiency, reducing unemployment with each recipient to benefit $75, 000.
Ojukwu stated that, “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. The initiative would create 250,000 jobs; the beneficiaries would be trained at various incubation centres on all aspects of value chains, with each beneficiary of the project supported with about US$75,000. The project would cover the 36 states including the FCT, while the Agricultural transformation Agenda (ATA) would be expanded through the processing zones.”
The Agriculture Minister, Chief Audu Ogbeh, in his remark, emphasized need for the three universities of agriculture in Umudike, Makurdi and Abeokuta respectively to revert back to the provisions of the Act that established them and advised the country to re- invent her own economic strategy to revive its economy. He promised to collaborate with representatives of AfDB and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), who came to present him the concept note on the youth agriculture scheme.
However, the Minister tasked IITA to intensify efforts towards researching into the conversion of cassava leaves into animal feeds, while some components of the Labor Intensive Family Enterprise (LIFE) of the ministry could be built into the youth empowerment initiative.
IITA Director-General, Dr. 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.