Complit Agro-Products Group, based in Minna, Niger, on Thursday trained 500 unemployed youths across the state on the production of soybeans.

Alhaji Jamiu Lawal, chairman, Complit Agro-Products Group, made this known while inaugurating the one day training in Minna.

“In this exercise, we are targeting 500 unemployed youths with 500 hectares of land.

“We have acquired 250 hectares of land at Gidankwano and making arrangements for another 2, 000 hectares somewhere,” he said.

Lawal said that the five years programme would increase the number of youths annually by 500 youths till when it would windup.

He said that the training would expose the trainees to soybeans cultivation and marketing.

The Group’s Chairman said that the measure would bring together stakeholders such as the farmers, banks and off-takers (marketers) to develop the sector.

“We want to help the farmers to access loans after the training.

“We are looking at a loan of N75 million for the 500 trainess for a start.

“When you break it down, it will amount to loan of N150, 000 per hectare of land,” he said.

He said that the loan would not come to the farmers in form of cash to avoid spending the money on other things.

“The money will come in form of farm inputs and implements to enable us achieve the desired goals,” he said.

He said that the programme was targeting production of 1, 500 tons of soybeans per annum valued at N180 million.

Lawal said that soybeans was an important cash crop with high demand by many local industries in Nigeria, which was not enough as the demand was being met by importation.

” Nigeria’s annual local demand for soybeans is estimated at 2.5 million tons valued at N250 billion.

“While our local production (supply) stood at 500, 000 tons leaving the gap of 2 million tons valued at N200 billion,” he said.

Similarly, Malam Abdul Ahmed, Director, Agriculture Services and Linkages at the state’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said that government would do everything possible to support the programme.

“It is a laudable initiative, we will support our youths to be meaningfully engaged,” he said.

Ahmed advised the organiser to ensure that large expanse of land was acquired at a place to enable the youths work together and for easy identification and assistance.

Mr Adebisi Odeyemi, a consultant and resource person, said that soybeans is a leguminous vegetable of pea family, which originated from South Asia.

Odeyemi said that soybeans consisted of over 36 per cent protein, 30 per cent carbohydrate, dietary fiber, vitamin and minerals.

He said that it is an important crop for production of edible oil while the cake was important in the formulation of animal feed.

Also, Malam Garba Mohammed, a participant, told the News Agency of Nigeria that he did not know about the the importance of soybeans until the training.

Mohammed said that he intended to pass the knowledge to his wife towards expanding his farm in future.