The Nigerian government has launched a programme aimed at creating more employment for Nigerian youths in the agriculture sector.
The ‘Youth Employment In Agriculture Programme’ (YEAP) was launched on Tuesday in Abuja by President Goodluck Jonathan.
President Jonathan said his administration would not relent in the execution of programmes that would engage the teeming Nigerian youths in profitable and viable economic activities especially in agriculture.
The government also launched a fund that would finance agriculture in Nigeria, creating an opportunity for young Nigerians to access finance for agricultural ventures.
“Nigerian youths will not just take agriculture as a way of life, they will run agriculture as a business.
“Nigerian youths have showcased Nigeria in positive light more than the politicians and Nigeria needs younger and more entrepreneurial commercial farmers, as the ageing population of farmers are posing challenges to the system,” President Jonathan said.
Large Arable Land
The two programmes launched are targeted at reaching up to 750,000 Nigerian units over five years with financial support to enable them establish and run wealth creating agribusiness enterprises.
Nigeria is making efforts to diversify its economy that has depended hugely on revenues generated from sales of crude oil. The diversification of the economy has become a priority of the government at a time that the price of crude has continued to drop.
Prior to the discovery of crude in Nigeria, agriculture has been the mainstay of the economy of the nation, with large arable land left uncultivated.
Unemployment among youths has been identified as one of the biggest challenges facing Nigeria and for the President, time has come to create jobs and lay a new foundation for Nigeria’s economy to grow.
President Jonathan has launched several employment generation programmes in the past and he believes that diversification into agriculture will save the country from a slump in oil prices.
In his speech, the Minister for Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, captured the overall goal of the YEAP and the Fund for Agricultural Finance (FIFAN).
Dr Adesina said it was an outcome of the search of those who would help the government to grow the economy and take agriculture to the next level.
Testimonies poured in from some of the beneficiaries of the Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria.
Mosumola Umoru, Samuel Ayinde and Mariam Sanda have benefited from the YEAP/FIFAN programmes and they commended the government for creating access to finance needed in pushing their agribusiness to a new height.
The Ministry of Agriculture has mapped out over $15 million investments, with the support of other world bodies like the German Development Bank, and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority while the Federal Government has promised to create the enabling environment for the Nigerian youths to grab the opportunity.