Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara says his administration is set to kickstart the Buhari Young Farmers Programme aimed at engaging meaningfully thousands of youth in the state.
AbdulRazaq made this known on Tuesday in Abuja while speaking with newsmen after meeting with the Executive Secretary of National Agricultural Land Authority (NALDA), Mr Paul Ikonne.
According to him, the state is set to kick start the project, 500 hectares of land will be allotted to each of three local government areas of the state as part of the pilot programme.
“Kwara State is ready to key into the Federal Government Programme, the Buhari Young Farmers Programme and it is an ideal programme to kickstart for youth employment.
“Kwara is ready for the project. The land is ready and in the next one or two weeks, we will issue the certificate of occupancy so that the programme can begin immediately.
“When we say immediately, we are looking at August and we are starting with 500 hectares of land per local government for three local governments as a pilot scheme.
“Within the pilot scheme, we will try to improve on it and extend it to all the local governments to bring in as many youths as possible.
AbdulRazaq recalled that the state had its own youth programme before the inception of his administration, which was moribund but has been resuscitated.
“So, we put our own in place and when that of the federal government came on board, we decided to key into it to expand our own,” he said.
The governor said the state was taking advantage of the programme to ensure that more youths embraced farming, stressing that it was time youths realised that farming could earn them a fortune.
On the value chain, the governor said the state would engage in fish farming, animal husbandry and other products the state had comparative advantage in.
“In terms of fish farming, Kwara State is second to Kogi State. We want to expand, particularly in tilapia, animal husbandry and a host of others.
“We will target different crops for different local governments,” he said.
AbdulRazaq, however, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the initiative, saying the programme would create thousands of employment opportunities for youths across the country.
The Executive Secretary of NALDA, Mr Paul Ikonne said Kwara had been chosen as one of the pilot states because of the readiness of the governor to better the lot of youths in the state.
He added that the state was chosen because of the several potentials like the over 3,000 cashew plantation.
Ikonne said, ”Kwara State is getting the best out of it for being the pilot state. The governor is willing and they have shown us their readiness to be part of it.
“Do not forget that we already have cashew plantation that is already there, almost 3,000 hectares and we have agreed as well that we will put the cashew processing plant for North Central in Kwara State.
”Programmes have been outlined for the Buhari Young Farmers Network.
“By August we will be able to launch it in three Local Government Areas by engaging these youths in commercial farming, so that they will see how lucrative it is to farm.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Buhari Young Farmers Network is starting the pilot programme with 100 young Nigerians from each of the selected local government areas.
This is with a target of engaging 2,000 youths per local government in farming value chains before the end of 2021.
One of the objectives of the programme is to ensure that President Buhari left a legacy at the end of his tenure.
The establishment says it will soon release names of successful beneficiaries for the first phase of the pilot programme.
Meanwhile, the Act establishing NALDA outlines the objectives to include providing strategic public support for land development.
It was also established to promote and support optimum utilisation of Nigeria’s rural land resources for accelerated production of food and fibre among others.
Edited By: JaneFrances Oraka/Felix Ajide (NAN)