The African Development Bank (AfDB) has disclosed plans to spend about $300 million on the Enable Youth Empowerment Agribusiness Programme.
The project is to be implemented in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development within 18 months.
AfDB Director of Agricultural and Agro- Allied Industries, Dr.ChudiOjukwu, said the three-year project would enable training and funding of young graduates who are interested in farming across the country.
The programme is expected to encourage youths into agriculture, thereby increasing food sufficiency and reducing unemployment, with each recipient accessing $75, 000.
In a statement by the ministry’s Director of Information, Tony Ohaeri, on Wednesday in Abuja, the Agriculture Minister, Chief Audu Ogbeh, disclosed that the project would commence from the three Federal Universities of Agriculture in the country.
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 and 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 Minister, in his remarks, emphasized the need for the three Universities of Agriculture in Umudike, Makurdi and Abeokuta to revert to the provisions of the Act that established them.
He stated that the strength of a nation lies in the population of the youth and expressed concern on the rate of youth unemployment in the country saying, “We need to take care of them before they take care of us.”
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 the IITA to intensify efforts towards researching into the conversion of cassava leaves into animal feeds, while some components of the Labour Intensive Family Enterprise (LIFE) of the ministry could be built into the youth empowerment initiative.
IITA Director-General, Dr.Nteranya Sanginga, called for a change in the mind-set of the young graduates, saying that the IITA’s experiment in the past on young unemployed graduates revealed that they could make good return over on their investments.
He pledged the readiness of the IITA to provide necessary support to the ministry.