Laleye Dipo in Minna
The federal government has set aside over N55.5 billion for its youth empowerment programme under the Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme.
At least 37,000 youths are to be engaged on the farms in the 36 states of the federation and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The programme is being anchored by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The Niger State Commissioner for Agriculture, Alhaji Haruna Nuhu Duku, while briefing newsmen in Minna on Friday at the take-off of programme in the state, said 1,000 hectares of land had been cleared by the state for allocation to the youths.
Alhaji Duku said each youth would be allocated one hectare of land for the cultivation of rice, maize and soya beans.
In addition, the youths he said would get between N400,000 and N500,000 for labour while the government would provide high yielding varieties of seeds for the youths to plant.
Giving a breakdown of the cleared land in the three geo-political zones of the state the commissioner said 400 and 250 hectares of land each was cleared in Borgu and Rijau towns in the Niger North senatorial zone, 400 hectares in Mokwa in the Niger South senatorial district and 100 hectares each in Tagwai and Gwada towns in the Niger East senatorial zone.
While saying that the scheme was a pilot programme that would later be extended to the remaining local government areas of the state, Duku said it was the plan of the federal government to operate the scheme for six years, adding that: “Up takers have been identified to buy the harvested products from the youths.”
Answering a question, he said the MoU recently signed between the state government and Dangote Group of Companies for the production of sugar “is on course”, adding that government was also at an advanced stage of signing another MoU with the same organisation for the cultivation and milling of rice.