By Gertrude Onyekachukwu-Uteh
ASABA/Nigeria: The Delta State Job and Wealth Creation Bureau has commenced its Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP) with OFET for already existing youth farmers in Crop Production.
Addressing the 158 YAGEP beneficiaries in Crop Production at Unity Hall, Government House, venue of the Orientation Training, the Chief Job and Wealth Creation Officer, Prof Eric Eboh, pointed out that YAGEP was aimed at creating jobs and wealth by training, establishing and supporting youths to become agricultural entrepreneurs who would because gainfully self-employed and employers of labour.
He explained that the Orientation and Farm Enterprise Training (OFET) was organized to enroll and familiarize them with the principles and methods of YAGEP with special reference to key management topics and issues such as critical success factors in farm enterprise management, farm records and accounts, managing risks and uncertainties in agricultural production and agricultural insurance by Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation.
He listed the categories of YAGEP as Green YAGEP and Brown YAGEP, explaining that Green YAGEP are youths who are freshers in agricultural enterprises but required training in a chosen agricultural skill followed with provision of facilities, materials and financial support to start-up and run an agricultural enterprise, while Brown YAGEP referred to youths who already had agricultural skills and own agricultural enterprises but needed refresher training in practical and managerial skills plus support packages to grow and sustain their existing enterprises.
He disclosed that YAGEP has run five successful cycles with a total of number of 1,174 YAGEP beneficiaries who were trained, established and supported in various agricultural enterprises including poultry, crop production, piggery, fish production, agro-processing and agribusiness, from 2015 to 2020, adding that YAGEP is in its sixth cycle and that 400 beneficiaries would be enrolled in Fish Production, Poultry, Piggery and Crop Production out of which only 158 of them in Crop Production were present for the first batch of OFET.
“The 2020-2021 cycle is the 6th consecutive run of the programme. Specifically, it will cover a total of 400 youth agricultural entrepreneurs in the Brown YAGEP category. The programme commences with Orientation and Farm Enterprise Training (OFET) for 2020/2021 Brown YAGEP beneficiaries (1st Batch) holding today 25th of May 2021. The enterprises covered in the 2020-2021 programme cycle are poultry, piggery, fish production and cultivation of arable crops including cassava, yam, maize, rice, tomato, okra, watermelon, pumpkin and plantain,” he recounted.
He said the farm enterprise training workshop would be followed with provision of support packages to the beneficiaries such as fertilizer; animal feeds; crop agrochemicals; livestock vaccination; cash to pay for critical farm labour in land preparation; weeding; animal husbandry and harvesting; innovative production technologies and profitable agribusiness depending on the type of farm enterprise.
On the success rate of YAGEP, he remarked, “YAGEP is contributing significantly to agricultural outputs and overall growth of the agricultural sector in Delta State. Estimates show that, from 2015-2020, YAGEP beneficiaries have produced 1,689.87 metric tonnes of poultry, 61,358,690 eggs and 4,977.98 metric tonnes of fish. In addition, YAGEP outputs include 1,706.91 metric tonnes of pig, 1,109.23 metric tonnes of casava roots, 1,339.58 metric tonnes of grains, 477.70 metric tonnes of plantain and 1,753.87 metric tonnes of vegetables namely tomatoes, watermelon and cucumber. Recent survey shows that the success rate among YAGEP beneficiaries averages about 71% across the various agricultural enterprises.”
On his part, the Executive Assistant to the Governor on Youth Monitoring and Mentoring, Mr. Edward Mekwunye, admonished the beneficiaries to make good use of the opportunity given them by the State Government to become great entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector.
He emphasized that the State Government has made lots of investments in the programme, enjoining them to work hard to ensure that the success recorded in the programme is sustained, assuring them that the Directorate of Youth Monitoring and Mentoring would continue to monitor and mentor them.
Speaking separately, Omenogor Azuka (Ndokwa East) in Plantain Farming and Abiaka Henry (Ethiope East) in Cassava Production appreciated the State Government for the initiative. They said they were hopeful that the support package would help them to expand their farm enterprises from levels of subsistence to commercial farming.
Present at the event were the Senior Special Assistants to the Governor on Job and Wealth Creation Messers Jerry Ossai; Prince Charles Abutoh; Emmanuel Osazuwa and Frank Ebikefe and the Resource Persons, Mr Francis Aninye and Miss Emmanuella Clinton.