By Gertrude Onyekachukwu-Uteh/Promise Ogana
ASABA/Nigeria: The 2019/2020 Cycle of the Delta State Government’s Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme and Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP) has come to an end with the handing out of starter packs to additional 84 beneficiaries.
The handing out ceremony which took place at the Event Centre, Asaba was performed by the State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and was attended by selected 2019/2020 STEP and YAGEP beneficiaries in line with the COVID-19 restrictions.
In his address, Governor Okowa expressed joy on the successes recorded by beneficiaries of the programme in the past five years, saying that their successes had proved wrong those who thought that the prosperity for all Deltans mantra was not achievable.
“As we work to build a Stronger Delta, many aspects of our economy is growing. Those who doubted us at first will have a rethink. Today, we are witnessing the handing out of starter packs to the last set of beneficiaries in the 2019/2020 Cycle of STEP and YAGEP,” Okowa stated.
He charged the beneficiaries to remain focused and committed on how to grow their enterprises, stressing that the success of the state government was determined by their success stories.
“I know we don’t have lazy youths in Delta State. When I see the passion, commitment and the quality of youths that we have, I am encouraged.
“From the reports available to me, I am encouraged that our youths are very committed and passionate about succeeding in their businesses.
“Our youths are helping us to build a stronger Delta. We shall truly upscale the number of beneficiaries in 2021,” he remarked.
He pointed out that in addition to STEP and YAGEP, the state government was engaged in lots of empowerment programmes such as the Girls Entrepreneurship Skills Training (GEST), the Women Entrepreneurship Skill Acquisition Programme (WESAP), and the Rural Youth Skills Acquisition (RYSA.)
Earlier, the Chief Job and Wealth Creation Officer, Prof. Eric Eboh, asserted that in a bid to uphold Governor Okowa’s vision of building a stronger Delta, the Delta State Job and Wealth Creation Bureau had successfully provided starter packs to STEP and YAGEP beneficiaries in the 2019/2020 programme cycle.
“Altogether, 814 youths comprising 569 under STEP and 245 under YAGEP were covered in the 2019/2020 programme cycle.
“In terms of gender, the 2019/2020 STEP beneficiaries are distributed into male 47% and female 53% while the 2019/2020 YAGEP beneficiaries comprise male 57% and female 43%.
“On the whole, there are 25 persons with disabilities (PWDs). By type of beneficiaries, the 2019/2020 STEP consists of 15% brown and 85% green.
“In contrast, the 2019/2020 YAGEP consist of 90% brown and 10% green,” Eboh said.
He emphasized that the STEP enterprises covered in the 2019/2020 cycle included Fashion Design and Textile Design, Audio-Visual Technology Services, Information Technology Services, Catering and Confectionery, Electrical Installation and Solar Works, Tiling and Interlocking, Welding and Fabrication, Hair Dressing and Makeover, Pop-Screed making-painting.
He noted that the Green YAGEP enterprises covered poultry and fish production only while brown YAGEP covered poultry, fish production, piggery, crop production, comprising cassava, plantain, rice, maize and vegetables.
He stated that all 2019/2020 STEP beneficiaries had already received their starter packs and shop rent support, with the exception of 65 graduands in Welding and Fabrication, 10 graduands in Tiling and Interlocking and nine persons with disabilities (PWds) who would receive theirs after the ceremony.
In addion, he said that all Brown YAGEP beneficiaries had undergone refresher agricultural skills trainings and received their support packages which comprised production inputs, namely crop seed, fingerlings, animal feeds, fish feeds, fertilizers and agrochemicals.
“Green YAGEP beneficiaries have undergone agricultural skills training and internship lasting 3-6 months, depending on the enterprise. Subsequently, every graduand in poultry enterprise was started up with prototype poultry pens for 500 broilers, vaccination and 145 bags of poultry feeds, in serial batches to harvest time.
“Similarly, every graduand in fish production enterprise was started up with prototype tarpaulin pond fish farm consisting of three tarpaulin tanks, each with capacity for 500 fish.
“In addition, they were given 120 bags of fish feeds in serial batches to harvest time. The provision of YAGEP starter packs is complemented with support for handholding by trainers,” he stated.
Esther Nwaokolo (Aniocha South LGA) and Christopher Esiphiri (Ughelli South) in Catering and Confectionery and Fish Production respectively, expressed their gratitude to the State Government for the opportunity given to them to become entrepreneurs.
They explained that the programme had not only helped them to realize their dreams but also boosted their businesses.