Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
No less than 60 Cooperative Societies in Anambra State would benefit from the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises (LIFE) programme of the Federal Government.
Twenty-Four states, including Anambra State, were selected from the six geo-political zones for the implementation of the programme.
LIFE was initiated by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to promote community-based activities for job and wealth creation among unemployed and underemployed youths and women in rural and suburban households.
Explaining the programme, on Monday, in Awka, the Deputy Director in the Agro-Processing and Marketing Department of the Ministry, Mr. Marcus Ogunbiyi, who led a team of experts on a week-long assessment of cooperative societies to the 12 benefiting communities in Anambra State, said the beneficiaries of the programme would be organised into cluster groups.
Ogunbiyi stressed that their targets were the unemployed and underemployed Nigerian youths between 18 and 40 years with a minimum qualification of secondary school certificate, as well as unemployed and underemployed women, especially widows and single mothers.
He said, “They shall be chosen along ward lines based on interest to improve their lives, especially through agriculture and its value chains.
“All the beneficiaries of the LIFE programme shall be organised into cluster groups comprising of youth and women cooperatives having a leadership platform from the community to the national apex level. These beneficiaries shall consist largely of young people selected across several complementary disciplines in a gender-balanced manner.”
While in the state he said members of his team would visit all the 60 cooperative societies in the 12 communities and give community farmers brief understanding of the LIFE programme and its short, medium, and long term goals.
They would also promote the importance and benefits of the programme to state officials and potential beneficiaries; identify agribusiness gaps in sample communities through the conduct of needs assessments and verify available structures in the communities.
The overall goal of the programme according to Ogunbiyi was to contribute to the attainment of food security and economic growth of Nigeria through job creation, value addition, and business enterprises in agriculture, rural income generation and improved livelihoods for youth and women.
Others include “increasing family livelihood through the development of agricultural enterprises to reduce rural-urban migration among the youths, promoting community-based farming as a business and to create on-farm and off-farm jobs for unemployed youth and women, promoting import substitution through enhancing production and productivity of competitive crops.”
Responding, Anambra State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mechanization and Export, Mr. Afam Mbanefo, who received the team, explained that the state government had adopted transparency in its dealings with the various cooperative societies.
Mbanefo , stressed that with the process put in place by the state government, it had become easier to identify cooperative societies that meant business, adding that the era of one family dominating a cooperative society was over.