The Lagos State Government has said that no fewer than 300 Youth Agripreneurs from participants of its Lagos Agripreneurship Programme (LAP) and the Agricultural Youth Empowerment Scheme (Agric-YES) would be empowered at its Y2021 Agricultural Value Chains Empowerment Programme coming up on Thursday, 29th July.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, who made this known over the weekend at the sensitisation programme for beneficiaries of the Y2021 Empowerment Programme, explained that the initiative became imperative following the State Government’s resolve to create an enabling environment for youths in the agriculture landspace to thrive.
According to Olusanya, the youths are the future of agriculture as they would be the ones to replace the aged and ageing farmers and agripreneurs in the State, hence the need to prioritise them in this year’s empowerment programme.
She noted that the 300 beneficiaries include outstanding participants from the two programmes, adding that they would be put in incubation centres, given support on extension services as well as connected with donor agencies for assistance.
Her words: “In a society like ours where there is so much demoralisation, the people who are most impacted are the youths. According to the Book ‘My Vision’ by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the leader of Dubai, when a government does not act in the right manner, demoralisation sets in, especially for the youth. When the youth is frustrated, chaos will set in”.
“We have a total of 300 participants out of which 240 are for aquaculture and 60 for poultry. Out of the 240 going for aquaculture, we will have about 80 in the facility in Araga, Epe, while the remaining 160 will be at the Lagos Food Production Centre, Avia, Badagry”, the Commissioner averred.
Olusanya noted that each of the 240 aquaculture students would be empowered with 700 juveniles, 25 bags of feed as well as medication while the 60 poultry students would be given 480 points of lay, 100 bags of feed and medication valued at N380,000 and N1.8m per participant respectively.
She stated that this year’s Empowerment Programme is different as it essentially focuses on three specific value chains of poultry, piggery and aquaculture (artisanal fisheries) that were most affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and the outbreak of zoonotic diseases.
The Commissioner added that the Gberige and Oke-Aro Piggery Estates’ farmers were badly hit by the African Swine Fever, which practically cleared out the livestock in the estates, stressing that 400 pig farmers from the two estates have been earmarked to receive three pig growers each as well as regular veterinary services, while four groups of pig processors would also get smoking kilns as empowerment.
Explaining that the beneficiaries will be tutored on expectations from the Agricultural Value Chain Empowerment Programme, the Commissioner said details of the training would include the monetary value of government support towards the programme as well as the expected outcome.
“We have always done the Agricultural Value Chains Empowerment Programme but this year, it’s different. And the reason is that we’re introducing the sensitisation angle to it. It’s one thing to empower people but they don’t even know what it is that they are going to take out of the programme, or what they’ll get as beneficiaries”, Olusanya said.
“The reason why there’s so much distrust in government is that the information is probably not shared well and people make judgments based on their assumptions of this. Using this platform, there are no assumptions, we have cleared every doubt from the minds of our people. And it’s only for them to see on that day of the empowerment that we are bringing to them all that we have said we will bring for them. So, essentially, we are disseminating information to the beneficiaries and stakeholders for everyone to know what to expect”, she asserted.