The Federal Ministry of Agricilture and Rural Development on Friday advised parents to continue to support their children who show interests in pursuing agriculture.
Mrs Abimbola Akeredolu, the State Coordinator of the ministry in Lagos, gave the advice saying that it is a lucrative venture for combating poverty and unemployment.
Akeredolu spoke at the graduation of six graduands from the Total Exploration and Production (E&P) Nigeria Limited organised three- week skill acquisition in agriculture and agribusiness held on Victoria Island, Lagos.
She lauded the initiative by the company saying that youths needed to be empowered for poverty to be eradicated from the society.
Akeredolu also urged youths to take advantage of the many programmes initiated by the Federal Government to empower them because they were the future of the country.
“The Federal Ministry of Agriculture is present in all 36 states of the country, so feel free to visit our offices if you need any help in any area concerning agricultural activities.
“It is a privilege to be beneficiaries of this programme. Therefore, I urge you to seize this opportunity to be entrepreneurs so that you can be employers of labour in future.”
Also, the management of Total Exploration and Production (E&P) Nigeria Limited said that human capacity development was one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty and ensure sustainable economic growth.
Mr Mike Sangster, the Managing Director of the company said this at the event.
Sangster represented by the the company’s General Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Mr Charles Ngeribara, commended the six students that graduated from its three-week intensive training on agriculture and agribusiness.
He said, “The programme is designed with the objective of delivering top quality agricultural training that empowers Nigerian youths with livelihood skills.
“We believe that human capacity development is the most effective way to reduce poverty and ensure sustainable economic growth.
“Total aims to empower as many people as possible and support nation building efforts in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals ( SDGs) through capacity development initiatives,” he said.
The director said that empowering youths with livelihood skills was a step toward poverty reduction considering the high number of people living below the poverty line in Nigeria.
“This need has become more urgent, therefore, we partner with non-governmental organisations and other specialist agencies in the realisation of our CSR objectives.
“We are proud to graduate six young people who have completed three weeks of intensive residential training facilitated by agribusiness value chain experts,” he said.
Sangster said that the programme was divided into different parts: classroom, field work and a visit to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to give the students a broader perspective on agribusinesses.
He added that more than 15,000 individuals had been trained in different skills and given business starter packs to launch their careers in entrepreneurship thereby adding their quota to national economic growth.
“We are interested in your progress as entrepreneurs and we shall be visiting your places of business from time to time to see how you are faring.
“The impact assessment and evaluation will enable us do more and replicate successful outcomes for other graduates,” Sangster said.
Similarly, Mr Olayiwole Onasanya, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture, said that the programme would give youths the opportunity to contribute to a reduction in food security in the nation.
He said it aimed at increasing food production, eliminating poverty and increasing the states revenue.
“Agriculture is closely linked to food security, by providing a source of food and nutrients, a broad based source of income and by directly influencing food prices.
“The ministry’s mission statement is promoting sustainable food production in a healthy environment through efficient service delivery,” he said.
The secretary said that the three major areas of emphasis in ensuring food security in Lagos State are : accelerated food expansion programme, empowerment programmes and the development of red meat value chain.
“These programmes have greatly enhanced the productivity of the youths trained, increased food production, created job opportunities and also increased awareness of the citizenry on regarding agriculture as a viable business.
“I urge the beneficiaries to utilise efficiently the knowledge acquired during their period of training to contribute immensely to food security in the nation,” he said.
Onasanya, also advised them to apply more advanced agribusiness management skills to their venture in order to transform agriculture from subsistence production to commercial and profitable businesses.
The Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Mrs Bola Balogun, said that good skills and training help to support decent work for young people.
Balogun represented by Mrs Taiwo Fibisola, also an Assistant Director in the ministry said, “when you build the youth, you build the nation.
“With 1.2 billion people aged 16 years to 24 years, it is a challenge for the state, nation as well as the world to ensure that young people are gainfully engaged.
“Therefore, I urge stakeholders in the agricultural sectors to come up with innovative ideas just like Total E&P Nigeria towards youth empowerment.
“Such innovative ideas will ensure that young people do not only become the change that they need but also the change that the nation needs,” she said.
She also urged the beneficiaries to make use of every skill that they had acquired during the course of their training because their future and the future of the nation depended on it.
Balogun urged the beneficiaries of the programme to move to the next level by upgrading their skills and acquiring additional requirements that would make them professionals in their career path.
Mr Timothy Kunat, one of the graduands, said that he was grateful for the opportunity to be a beneficiary of the programme saying that he had learnt a lot during the course.
Kunat said that he learnt a great deal about the branding and packaging of agricultural products which he intended to put into practise and improve his profits from his already existing farm in Jos, Plateau.
Edited by Peter Dada
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