No doubt, agriculture stands as a cornerstone of Nigeria’s economy, providing jobs for millions and playing a pivotal role in the nation’s GDP. But here’s the twist: despite its significance, a good number of Nigerian youths aren’t exactly lining up to till the soil or nurture their own agribusiness ventures.
In a revealing survey by the National Bureau of Statistics, it was uncovered that a mere 22% of Nigerian youths harbor any interest in embarking on agricultural careers. More strikingly, a whopping 57% simply aren’t intrigued by the sector at all. Consider the situation we will all find ourselves if this trend persists, it could sow the seeds of food insecurity and stunt the growth of Nigeria’s economy.
As part of efforts to create jobs and mitigate the impact of the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had in 2020 authorized commercial banks to give each up to N2billion maximum loan to youths interested in going into agriculture.
The loan, which comes under the Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme (AADS) at five percent interest rate per annum was created by the apex bank in collaboration with state governments to engage 370,000 youth in agricultural production. According to experts in the agricultural sector, the intervention by the apex bank will help create jobs, hence, reduce youth restiveness in the country while boosting agro productivity.
Globally, agriculture is one sector no one can joke with, this is one sector that rules the world and it is on this very note that youths of Delta oil rich state, South-South Nigeria, must key into the much talked about and well accepted Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme (AADS) in Delta state which will aid in no small measure the production of staple foods and industrial raw materials, food security, job creation and economic diversification.
This scheme is very dear to the heart of the state governor, His Excellency Rt.Hon (Elder) Sheriff Oborevwori, hence the installations of greenhouse farms across the three senatorial districts, namely, Delta North, Delta South and Delta Central of Delta state.
In keeping to his M.O.R.E agenda promises to Deltans and making sure the youths of the state are beneficiaries of the AADS, governor Oborevwori recently shortly after his visits to the Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS), at the Mbiri farm settlement in Ika North East Local Government Area of the state in company of the state commissioner for agriculture and natural resources, Perez Perekebena Omoun, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Bennett Ezon-Abode Agamah, Secretary to the State Government, (SSG), Kingsley Emu and other top government functionaries announced the availability of a N2 billion Special Agricultural Intervention Fund for the development of the vital sector in the state and soonest the funds disbursement to farmers will kick off.
At the occasion, the governor said that his administration would continue to take initiatives that would ensure the state derived maximum benefits from its engagements along the entire value chain of the agricultural sector, and that actual disbursement of the N2 billion would soon begin adding that “If you go through my MORE agenda, I said there is going to be sustainable agricultural sector reforms. I also said that the agricultural value chain will be sustained. And seeing what the immediate past administration has done here, it gladdens my heart. The Honourable Commissioner for Agriculture has briefed me before coming that we have this kind of settlement in the three senatorial districts.”
Following his vested interest of the youth friendly and peoples’ governor Oborevwori in the scheme, the youths will benefit a whole lot if they keyed into the scheme and the youths must take this opportunity more seriously because the governor’s demonstration of readiness is a rare privilege for the youths and this is particularly important in the sense that it is the first time in the history of the state that efforts at the reactivation of the once thriving farm settlements, especially the one at Mbiri (modeled after the Israeli type), would be consolidated as critical investments in the efforts at revolutionizing the agricultural sector in the state and more importantly is his disclosure to disburse N2 billion to boost the agricultural sector which is significant and raises the prospect of brighter days ahead for the state and its people.
The Scheme which falls under the purview of Delta State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Hon Perekebena Perez Omoun, has done a lot in the setting up of the greenhouse farms at Mbiri farm settlement in Ika North East Local Government Area, (Delta North senatorial district), Kpakiama town in Bomadi Local Government Area (Delta South senatorial district) and Deghele (Elume) in Sapele Local Government Area (Delta Central senatorial district) all in Delta state, Nigeria.
Though, recently faced with some challenges, in his recent tour of various farm projects in the state under his ministry, the agriculture commissioner had stated that the Oborevwori’s administration was highly committed to providing necessary assistance to farmers in the state in order to increase their output and as well provide more jobs for the people of Delta State adding that his job as Commissioner for agriculture and natural resources is to ensure that the vision of the governor, Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, of providing opportunities for all Deltans through the M.O.R.E Agenda is achieved.
“As commissioner for agriculture and natural resources, in line with the M.O.R.E Agenda of the governor which aims at providing opportunities for all Deltans through various initiatives that will create jobs for the people of Delta, we have come here today to inspect the site for the installation of greenhouses for Delta South Senatorial District. I believe a successful farmer does not stay in his house, rather he lives in the farm and I don’t believe the job of the commissioner for agriculture is to sit in the office, that’s why we have defied the rain to enter into the bush, because by the end of this week, I want to see appreciable progress by the project handlers ‘Afritropic Farming and Agro Services Ltd in this site. Let me emphasize that this project is meant for agrarian conscious youths who have the passion and desire to transform their lives through farming, with this golden opportunity provided by the government through the Central Bank of Nigeria,” Omoun had stated in 2023 during tour and inspection of the sites across the three senatorial districts before his suspension from office by the governor and compulsory leave.
The Commisioner while saying that under the AADS, the state government had established three greenhouse farms at Mbiri, Kpakiama and Deghele across the three senatorial districts of the state, charged the project handler to deliver timely so that the very essence of the project which is to provide more food for the people is achieved.
Meanwhile, to prove wrong the impression already created in some quarters that nothing on ground in the farm settlements, a visit to the three greenhouse farm settlements last weekend by this writer, it was observed that a lot has been achieved in the installations of the greenhouse farms across the three senatorial districts in the state.
At the Mbiri farm settlement, it was observed that the facility which is housing the project for Delta North senatorial district is functional, with water system working perfectly well, while at Deghele site in Elume, Sapele council area, the project is near completion with the greenhouse farms already established, overhead water tanks, solar panel to power the water system and some office buildings and toilets are already in place and at the Kpakiama project site in Bomadi council area, materials were seen on ground, workers were on ground working round the clock and installing solar panels that will later power the water system among others.
Sincerely speaking, with all that are already on ground and in place at the sites of the three farm settlements at Mbiri, Deghele/Elume and Kpakiama, it shows the Delta state government is not taking chances as far as the Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS), is concerned and it also shows the sincerity of governor Oborevwori and his readiness to secure the future of Delta youth through the scheme.
Speaking with this writer, a resident at Mbiri who simply identified himself as Obiora, commended governor Oborevwori for the scheme and the efforts taken so far by the agriculture commissioner and his team in supervising the project and making sure the Mbiri farm settlement was ready on time.
“Governor Sheriff Oborevwori has kept to his promises to Deltans, the M.O.R.E agenda is really working. The commissioner for agriculture, we learnt has some challenges resulting to his suspended by the governor but the truth is that, he has done exceedingly well in making sure the green house here in Mbiri is set up and functional. You can’t know that much is going on here if you don’t visit the site. I want to use this opportunity to appeal to our amiable, youth friendly and the peoples’ governor to please temper justice with mercy and forgive the agriculture commissioner, Omoun, for whatever his wrongs. He must have learnt his lessons in a hard way.”
At Deghele and Kpakiama sites, residents who spoke also thanked and commended the state governor, Sheriff Oborevwori for the interest in the scheme and the financial commitment and adminished youths and Deltans to take advantage of the scheme to better their lives. The residents also commended the commissioner for agriculture for his selfless efforts and commitment in ensuring that the three green houses are fully established and functional.
It was however gathered that after clearing and paying compensation to crop owners, the building and other works already done such as office building/store, toilets bathroom, kitchen and store were destroyed by the Olodiama people in Kpakiama which however occasioned the relocation of the project to its present site. The special adviser to the governor on peace and conflict resolution was said to have involved in the resolution before workers left to avoid communal issues and got another site. So far so good, works already done, especially at the sites at Deghele and Kpakiama are so very encouraging.
The move of governor Oborevwori’s administration, is in a way represents a credible attempt at the diversification of the economy of the state which had, just as the rest of the country, been tied to earnings from the unpredictable crude oil and gas sector and Delta youth must never fail to key into the scheme more especially as the governor is fully ready in making sure their future is secured.
NB: Pictures in the story were taken last weekend by the writer at Mbiri, Deghele/Elume and Kpakiama farm settlements in the three senatorial districts during his visit.
Brandon Oghenekevwe, writes from Delta state.