Ekiti Tackles Unemployment

August 18, 2012

L-R: Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina; Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ekiti DState, Mr. Babajide Arowosafe; Ekiiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi; and Board Member, State Agricultural Development Programme, Mr. Yomi Ogunrinde, during the Flag Off of the Youth Commercial Development (YCAD) Programme and 2012 Farming Season, in Ido-Osi, Ekiti State.

Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi’s efforts to scale down unemployment in the state are yielding fruit. Many youths have found work and are fending for themselves, their families as well as helping to raise the state’s productivity index.

The Fayemi administration first took a census of unemployed youths in the state before it rolled out its job-creation schemes. The government set up the Youth Volunteers Corps through which about 5,000 were employed into various departments of government. There was also the Young Entrepreneurs Scheme through whose graduates were trained in business and provided with funds to set up their private firms. The Skill Acquisition Centre was yet another measure to create jobs, in which over 500 youths acquired different entrepreneurial skills.

The latest in the series of programmes initiated by the administration is the Youth Commercial Agriculture Development Programme (YCAD). This programme, apart from engaging the youth in commercial farming, is also targeted at increasing food production.

Essentially, YCAD is to “systematically incentivise youths into sustainable commercial agriculture.” The programme, according to the state Ministry of Agriculture, will directly generate employment opportunities to potential young entrepreneurs by promoting high value crops (HVC) production, processing and their marketing, transportation from the point of production to storage and processing centres.

Already, the programme, expected to provide employment for over 20,000 youths, has just taken off in the state with the ongoing training of the first set of 150 young graduates. They are to commence farming activities at Orin Farm Settlement where many acres of land have been cleared for the programme. Besides, there is the extension of power supply to the settlement to make life easier for the farmers in the settlement and to encourage more youths to take part in the programme. Under it, “farmers are being provided with land preparation, tractor services, inputs services and marketing services at subsidised prices”.

The government under its land preparation and investment scheme will acquire, prepare land and share among young farmers in blocks under YCAD programme.

At the end of the harvest season, each beneficiary is expected to pay back the facility in kind. The YCAD programme will take care of the marketing responsibilities and post-harvest losses. Benefiting youths may sell their produce to Fountain Agriculture Marketing Agency (FAMA) or customers of their choice.

Essentially, the components of the YCAD include:

*Allocation of ploughed service blocks to participating youth farmers for commercial agricultural production;

*Structure allocation of land with expansion opportunities;

*Supply of inputs such as seeds, agro-chemicals, fertilizers, sacks and services to facilitate marketing of produce by FAMA;

*Supply agricultural cultivation services such as tractor services, harvesting services and other services on serviced blocks;

*Supply of commercial farm management skills and capacity building services by UNDP-AMSCO Team;

*Technical support from Agriculture Extension Staff of the state Agricultural Development Programme, FADAMA, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Partner Service Provider;

*Training of farmers free of charge input usage by service providers, where the need arise;

*Training in other agricultural enterprise such as poultry, fisheries, aquaculture and bee keeping for supplementary income;

*Structured disbursement of loan using voucher and direct payment systems;

*Structured repayment system for loan acquired using estates and proceeds from farm.

Speaking while presenting a credit facility of N450 million to  the first set of 150 participants in the YCAD programme on Monday August 6, 2012, the state governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi stressed the need for governments to develop a base for an inclusive and resilient economy by diversifying the economy through a focused commercial agricultural development  agenda.

Cross-section of YCAD graduants.

He noted that significant and rapid growth can only be achieved with thorough attention on driving the practice of agriculture as a business adding that this can only be achieved by empowering and providing more opportunities for young people within the agricultural space.

The governor who was in company of the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi  Adesina said “without effective policies and agenda on youth development, the benefits of economic growth will continue to bypass a significant proportion of Nigerians, including our teeming population of youths.

“Deliberate policies focused on building capacity and incentivising youth into agriculture must be embarked upon. Policies that will aggressively create an enabling environment for youth participation in agric-business should be the bedrock of our diversification.

“As a governor, my focus and attention is on deliberate policy measures and targeted investments aimed at facilitating the participation of youths in practicing modern agriculture, as commercial entity.

“This is currently being framed by my aggressive managerial and entrepreneurship capacity building programme for emergent farmers in the state.”

He told the graduate farmers that the managerial and entrepreneurship training programme they had just gone through was to prepare them for a future in agriculture and consolidate their knowledge as commercial agric-business managers.

He hoped that the new farmers will be successful in their new found vocation saying “be rest assured that my administration will provide a strong and protected enabling environment, with required access to resources needed to sustain and give entrepreneurial youths with the advantage required in operating successful agricultural business”

He added that he will not relent in his efforts to ensure that access to finance, developed land, technology and necessary market are guaranteed.

“Let me announce to you that I have approved almost N500 million credit facilities, at a single digit interest rate, to young and emergent farmers within the YCAD Cooperative Union. Today you will all have access to an expandable credit facility of not less than N1.4 million each to boost commercial production of high value crop such as rice, cassava, oil palm and cocoa”, he stressed.

Fayemi further noted that his administration with the support of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had finalized the engagement of the service of a business support manager to consolidate management of their individual business.

The manager, who has vast technical experience and farm business management skills, will help in hand-holding them to drive a successful commercial agricultural operation.

Besides, he pointed out that with several millions of naira committed to the purchase of farm equipment such as planters, boom sprayers, seed drills among others, the manager will support them in the usage of these equipments for commercial plantation.

Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi presenting a cheque of N1.4 Million to Miss Akinwande Bukola, a YCAD Graduant.

The governor explained that with almost N2 million for them to open 10 hectare land for commercial operation, the state government had made adequate preparation for the provision of already developed land for each of the participants saying 1000 hectares of newly acquired land is being opened and developed into tractorable land for their uptake. Also over 2,000 hectares of government land has been allocated for their operation and cultivation

By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu

  This article was first published in The Nation on 17 August, 2012.

Last modified: August 18, 2012

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