In its determination to reduce the level of youth unemployment, the Federal Government has unveiled plans to empower 740,000 young agricultural producers in rural areas under its Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme.
According to a statement from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr. Shehu Ahmed, disclosed this while delivering a keynote address at a one – day stakeholders’ workshop on YEAP in Abuja.
The permanent secretary who was represented by the Director, Animal Production and Husbandry Services, Dr. Egejuru Eze, was quoted as saying that the programme would cover 36 states of the federation as well as the Federal Capital Territory.
According to him, the programme has commenced with six pilot states selected from the six geopolitical zones including Bauchi, Imo, Katsina, Lagos, Niger, and Rivers, adding that beneficiaries would comprise 20,000 school leavers and rural youth leaders from each state of the federation.
In the statement, Ahmed said beneficiaries of the YEAP programme would enjoy support from the Federal and state governments in areas of access to land, technical, entrepreneurial, financial business and marketing skills as well as links to major agribusinesses that would provide market and mentor ship.
He commended the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations for providing assistance to the ministry in strengthening the capacities of implementer of YEAP in the six pilot states.
The Director, Extension Services in the ministry, Mr.Rufus Onwuemeka, was also quoted as saying that the workshop was aimed at creating a forum where key stakeholders under the FAO-assisted programme would meet and brainstorm on how to properly implement the YEAP in their respective states to achieve results.
In her goodwill message, the FAO Representative in Nigeria Ms. Louise Setshwaelo, said youths are one of the greatest assets Nigeria could take advantage of to end poverty in the country.
Setshwaelo disclosed that the FMARD and FAO joined forces in 2012 to design and implement YEAP in order to provide necessary skills and opportunities for both young women and men to have equal access to decent jobs.
She reiterated the commitment of the FAO to continue collaborating with the federal and state governments in the implementation of the YEAP programme for the empowerment of Nigerian youths.