By Niyi Olutunde, Akure
In its efforts to create jobs through the agriculture entrepreneurship and industrialisation, Ondo State Government has flagged off Agri-Business Empowerment Centre for the training of 18,000 youths across all the state.
Speaking at the flagging off ceremony held at the Federal College of Agriculture (FECA), Akure, at the weekend, the state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu said his administration was determined to take a number of unemployment youths off the streets in the state through the agricultural programme.
Akeredolu said that the rate of unemployment is totally unacceptable saying there is need to address unemployment in Nigeria.
While commenting on the programme, tagged ‘Youths On The Ridges’, Akeredolu maintained that there is need for the state to have Agri-Business Empowerment Centre in Ondo for the purpose of training youths in the area of agriculture in collaboration with FECA.
He however said to be productive, individual attitudes towards agriculture must be changed stressing that government would give all beneficiaries land for farming.
In his welcome address, the Senior Special Assistant to the governor on agric and agri-business, Pastor Akin Olotu said it was an open secret in Nigeria that agriculture was not an attractive profession saying that the trend is gradually changing.
Olotu maintained that revenue from oil can no longer carry the burden of a nation that failed to pay attention to wealth creation through industrialization and agriculture.
His words, “Majority of our under graduates in the faculty of agriculture are largely those that failed to secure admission for their preferred courses. We cannot blame the youths because farming is largely peasantry in Nigeria and it is characterized by various unpleasant challenges.
“Nigerian farmers are always bitten by different dogs every year, just as we condemn nomadic cattle rearing, we must move away from peasant farming. The two are the same and they are hall marks of underdevelopment and backwardness. This is one of the challenges the youths on the ridges will address, we are looking at a new generation of farmers.
“As a nation we have to continue to grapple with concerns for food security and by extension nutritional security”.
Olotu therefore charged the beneficiaries to stand up to be counted, as history beckons on them.
“I can assure you that there are many bright, well-educated, unheralded, young people and senior ones that are earning a very comfortable living from the provision of agricultural goods and services”. He added.
Also speaking at the programme, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Otunba Adegboyega Adefarati said the idea of the youths on the ridges programme was a deliberate way to create awareness on improved food production and to arouse the interest for Ondo youths in agriculture.
Adefarati who reiterated that it was obvious that Nigeria can no longer rely on traditional method of farming to free us from hunger saying that “we must enlist the interest of our youths in modern farming”.
He said, “I strongly believed that this programme will go a long way to improve food security, eliminate hunger and produce agro-preneurs across the agricultural value chain in the state.
“The various regimes at Federal and state government levels have organised youths into various farming clusters based on crops of comparative advantages to various agrarian communities in order to improve food and economic sustainability, reduce hunger and malnutrition among the populace and sustain the livelihoods of the citizenry who rely on agricultural value chains”.