Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Over 1,027 unemployed youths have been trained by Anambra-Imo River Basin Development Authority in various fields of agriculture for self-reliance.
The two-week training for Anambra South Senatorial District of the state was aimed at empowering the youths in the area to be gainfully employed and be on their own after the intensive training.
The training programme was organised in collaboration with DEVASS Agro Consultants for the unemployed youths selected from the south senatorial district.
Managing Director of the agency, Mr. Michael Nwabufo, said the training was in line with the Federal Government’s strategies at advancing agricultural development for food security.
“The training is aimed at advancing agricultural development that will guarantee food security and healthy nutrition on a sustainable and environmentally friendly basis to citizens by the year 2020. The present aging farming population lacks the knowledge and resources to practice profitable agriculture on sustainable and environmentally friendly basis.
“Our youths, who before now go into buying and selling and pursuit of nonexistent white collar jobs need to be re-skilled in the art and science of farming as a profitable business,” he said.
Nwabufo assured that the trainees would be linked to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers Scheme, Bank of Industry and Bank of Agriculture for credit facilities after the training, urging the trainees to form cooperative societies to able them qualify for the credit facilities and other farm implements.
Nwabufo, who was represented by Dr. Basil Abasinweze, disclosed that the agency had so far executed over 30 irrigation and water projects in the state to boost agriculture in the area.
Commissioner for Agriculture, Mechanisation, Processing and Export in the state, Mr. Afam Mbanefo, commended the Federal Government for streamlining the programme to the state. “The programme is not just to train the youth, but to make food available to Nigerians and at the same time, make youths self-reliant”.
“This is what Gov. Willie Obiano is achieving in the area of rice, livestock, yam, vegetable and cassava production,” Mbanefo, represented by the Nnewi North Local Government Chairman, Mr. Emeka Orizu, said.
While urging the youth to take the training seriously, Mbanefo advised the people of the state to cultivate small farms and gardens around their homes to help cushion the effect of the economy.
Chief consultant, DEVASS AGRO Consultants, Mr. Anthony Azi said the training would focus on nine agricultural value chains that involve fisheries, piggery, poultry, snail farming, vegetables and horticulture, saying that others are bee keeping and honey production, rice, yam, cassava and sweet potato, among others.
“The youth will be trained from the production aspects of the value chains through to processing and marketing. It is expected to make them see farming as a business as well as export for self-reliance rather than seek white collar jobs,” Azi stated.