James Emejo and Folalumi Alaran in Abuja
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono has disclosed that the federal government through the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) had empowered 20 young Nigerian farmers with an initial take off grant of N30 million to support their incursion into agriculture.
He assured that all participants would receive seed capital from the bank and other financial institutions to establish smallholder agribusiness going forward.
This is as the minister also said the federal government was ready to commence the livestock pilot scheme programme, geared towards improving the livestock sub sector to generate revenue and boost the nation’s economy.
Speaking at the grand finale of the Naija Farmer Reality show, which is a youth empowerment project aimed principally to transform unemployed Nigerian youths to employers of labour, the minister urged the beneficiaries to utilise the opportunity provided by the government to improve their lots and support the economy.
Represented by the Director, Animal Husbandry Department, FMARD, Mrs. Winnie Lai- Solarin, Nanono, further charged the youths to be good ambassadors and role models to upcoming interested farmers at their various states and communities.
The highlight of the occasion was the presentation of a prize money of N5 million to the best farmer of the reality show, Mr. Simeon Ikechukwu Edoror from Edo State , while other participants went home with N1 million each.
The reality show had 20 housemates selected from the six geopolitical zones of the country at a located Naija Farmer House in Abuja and they were in the house for period of three months.
However, speaking during a working visit to the Governor of Nasarawa State, Mr. Abdullahi Sule, in Lafia, Nanono said the state is one of the few selected by the federal government for the implementation of the livestock programme.
He said: “The Nigeria livestock sub sector is a national asset worth over N33 trillion that should be encouraged and exploited by Nigerians.”
He pointed out that the livestock pilot scheme programme in the state alone is worth €400,000 for a start, adding that Bauchi and Gombe States are also part of the programme.
Nanono emphasised that agricultural mechanisation was a key driver towards ensuring that the country achieves food sufficiency, created jobs and fast tracked economic growth in the country.
He added that the sector provides the answer to feed the its population including its neighbours and boost internally generated revenue.