By Steve Agbota
As part of efforts to reduce poverty and unemployment, Highhill Agribusiness Development and Incubation Centre (HABDEC), has embarked on a free training on agricultural productivity to empower Nigerians between age 18 and 50 in the country.
The free mentorship and practical agribusiness empowerment boot camp was designed to train participants on the 4P crops, which include plantain, pawpaw, pineapple and potatoes, among others, horticulture and livestock, as the first batch of students who enrolled for the project graduated last month.
Speaking with Daily Sun, the Managing Director of HABDEC, Adeniyi Sola, described agricultural sector as a sector with viable opportunities for young people to tap into. He said the company has mapped out strategies to get young people involved in the green business through the free agribusiness internship programme.
According to him, HABDEC teaches and also empowers both youths and women in the practice of agriculture and the business of agriculture as part of efforts to reduce unemployment in the country. He said the company intends to release 600 practical agricultural consultants, advocates and producers who have been empowered on step by step technical approach to go about anything they want to do in agriculture.
He told Daily Sun that HABDEC was working to transform the agribusiness centre to a pre-university centre where students can come in and do their programmes and get certificate they can use to get admission into 200 levels.
He added: “You can also come in and do practical training with us as a post-university degree. It is actually going to be a full fledged certificate-driven school as time goes on. So that is why we are starting from this basis and we have the plans to later transcend it to full university as times goes on, which is going to be 100 per cent practical. So students at particular sections will have different things they are doing.”
Speaking on the free project, he explained that, “we have not received help from anybody but so far, we have been able to raise funds from family, friends, partners and some of the projects we do and from our farms; we sell some of the farm produce and we make money from there.
“It has not been easy. We are therefore using the opportunity to call on international agencies, donor agencies, NGOs and any parastatal, including state governments, interested in capacity building, especially in the area of agribusiness, to see how they can help us. However, we are moving on; we are not shutting down, we are waxing stronger everyday,” he explained.
He therefore called on the Federal Government to create enabling environment for people in agribusiness to thrive. If government can create enabling environment, agriculture can bail Nigeria out of recession and change Nigerians’ mentality about oil and gas, he said.