Laleye Dipo in Minna
Niger state government is partnering oil giant Chevron and some other private organisations in the country to improve rice production in the 25 local government areas of the state.
Chevron and its affiliates under the arrangement are providing the technical knowhow and capacity building for fresh graduates across the local government areas to attract them to the farms and the use of modern method of rice cultivation and production.
Apart from reducing the massive unemployment facing graduates in the state, the partnership would also “enhance the performance of the agricultural sector in the state to meet the food and employment needs of the people of the state and the country as a whole.”
The programme has already brought on board 200 private extension agents all of them graduates, while 300 units of small scale equipment including power tillers and threshers have been acquired.
Speaking at the launch of the programme in Minna on Wednesday, Niger State Governor Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello expressed delight that Chevron and its partners had chosen the state to pilot the programme, saying that the decision was not unconnected with the policy of the administration to make youth employment one of its priority projects.
Bello, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government Alhaji Jibrin Isah Ladan said the partnership would check rural urban migration and promote poverty alleviation and youth empowerment.
“Niger state is naturally endowed with one of the largest land area in the country of which more than 70% is arable, in addition to the rich commercial deposits of viable solid minerals. It is therefore no doubt that we continue to attract partnership from different corporate organisations in this direction.”
The Governor also disclosed that not less than 9500 people in the state were already directly or indirectly benefiting from the International Funds for Agricultural Development IFAD programme while the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme of the African Development Bank was already operating in seven of the 25 local government areas of the state.
A Director of one of the affiliate companies involved in the partnership, Alhaji Ribadu Umar in an address said the scheme will attract 1000 small holder rice out-growers through training and encourage integration of local resources organic manure to reduce over reliance on chemical fertilizer thereby reducing the cost of product.
Some of the products from the Agriculture Graduates Association of Nigeria, which included bags of processed rice, tillers and threshers and inorganic fertilizers were on display at the launch.