The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, on Tuesday stressed the need for Nigeria to re-invent her own strategy to revive its economy.
Ogbeh made the remarks when he received representatives of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), who visited him in Abuja.
The two continental organisations had came to present a concept note on the Enable Youth Empowerment Agribusiness Programme to the ministry.
The minister noted that the strength of a nation lies in the population of the youth and expressed concern on the rate of youth unemployment in the country saying, “We need to take care of them before they take care of us”.
He promised to join hands with AfDB and IITA towards the success of the empowerment initiative.
He expressed his desire to ensure that the youth study agriculture and make a living out of it, emphasising the need for the three universities of agriculture in Umudike, Makurdi and Abeokuta respectively to revert back to the provisions of the Act that established them
He said the Enable Youth Empowerment Programme would start from there.
He tasked the IITA to intensify efforts towards researching into the conversion of cassava leaves into animal feeds, while some components of the Labour Intensive Family Enterprise (LIFE) of the ministry could be built into the youth empowerment initiative.
Speaking earlier, the Director-General of IITA, Dr Nterayana Saginga, called for a change in the mindset of the young graduates towards agriculture.
He said that the institute’s experiment in the past on young unemployed graduates revealed that they could make good turn over on their investments.
Saginga pledged the readiness of IITA to provide necessary support to the ministry.
Also speaking, the Director of Agricultural and Agro- Allied Industries of the AfDB, Dr Chudi Ojukwu, explained that the bank was providing 300 million dollars to be to assemble and train graduates as entrepreneur farmers under a three year project.
“The initiative would create 250,000 jobs and the beneficiaries will be trained at various incubation centres on all aspects of value chains.
“Èach beneficiary of the project will be supported with about $75,000,” he said.
Ojukwu said that the project would cover the 36 states including the FCT, while the Agricultural transformation Agenda (ATA) would be expanded through the processing zones.