President Goodluck Jonathan, who unveiled the five-year Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP), an initiative that was launched on Tuesday with the aim of raising millions of young entrepreneurs in agriculture, also called Nagropreneurs, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, said the YEAP had an overall goal of contributing to food security and nutrition, rural income generation and improved livelihood for youths in the country.
Jonathan, who spoke about Nigeria’s improved agricultural fortunes, said, “To further boost the performance of the agricultural sector, Nigeria needs younger and more entrepreneurial commercial farmers.
“The rapidly ageing population of farmers poses a significant challenge and unless younger farmers are quickly developed, our future food security and competitiveness in agriculture will be compromised,” the president said, adding that YEAP is intended to engage Nigeria’s teeming youths in profitable and viable economic activities along the agricultural value chains, including commercial farming, processing, value addition, logistics, transport and marketing of value added agricultural products.
“They will not just take agriculture as a way of life, they will run agriculture as a business,” Jonathan said, saying YEAP had been designed to create a new generation of 750,000 young commercial farmers and agribusiness leaders (Nagropreneurs) that will make Nigeria’s agriculture more efficient, profitable and competitive.
These Nagropreneurs, he said, would become models and champions for the newly launched National Agriculture Schools Initiative by projecting to younger school children the image of agriculture as an attractive and wealth-creating sector.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, said the official unveiling of YEAP was the culmination of the search for a new generation of young commercial farmers, who would take Nigeria’s agriculture to greater heights.
Adesina said: “That search began three years ago when Mr President launched the Agricultural Transformation Agenda.The idea was simple, yet powerful: do a structural reform and transformation of the agricultural sector and unlock the potential of agriculture to diversify Nigeria’s economy.”
Adesina added, “Agriculture is now an exciting sector. Today, major local and international investors are investing in this new agriculture sector, with $5.6 billion in investments. The number of seed companies alone has risen from five to 80 within three years. And the banks are lending to the sector more than ever before.”
Citing latest release by the National Bureau of Statistics, the minister said the agricultural sector grew by 9.19 per cent (year-on-year) in the third quarter of 2014, up by 2.7 per cent points from quarter three of 2013.
“The agricultural sector grew by 38.53 per cent between third and fourth quarters of 2014, with crop production being the main driver, with a growth of 43.5 per cent,” he disclosed.
On what YEAP will do, Adesina said, “YEAP will develop a new cadre of 740,000 market-oriented young agricultural producers in rural areas. These will be school leavers and rural youth leaders and there will be 20,000 of them per state of the federation. YEAP will also develop 18,500 university graduates who will be formed into young agribusiness entrepreneurs called ‘Nagropreneurs.’
“They will develop businesses along the entire agricultural value chains, from the farm, storage, processing and value addition, financial services and logistics. Together with the presidential schools initiative, we will connect the young school children in agriculture to the Nagropreneurs, and they will grow to become the new millionaires and billionaires of Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, as a way of providing fluid access to affordable financing, the Federal Government also launched the Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN). The initiative, between the governments of Nigeria and Germany, would facilitate access to grants and subsidised loans to help further grow businesses for the Nagropreneurs.
Mosumola Umar, a former intern with Exxon Mobil; Samuel Terhungwa Ayede, a young graduate of Geography from Benue State, who is also an ex-banker; Mariam Sanda, 27, a native of Maiduguri and Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Treasure Land Global Farms; Adeniyi Adenuga, a graduate of Animal Production and Health, and Masters degree holder in Agricultural Biochemistry and owner of a 30-tonne catfish farm in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State and Muniru Umaru, who was once unemployed but now owns a 70-tonne fish farm, are some of the products of YEAP, who have benefitted from the programme. [SOURCE: TRIBUNE]