By Segun Awofadeji
The federal government has said it is targeting five million jobs in the agricultural sector.
The initiative is to engage youths, women and the vulnerable in order to integrate them into the nation’s economy.
The Minister of State Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Baba Shehuri stated this at the weekend, when he led a delegation of executives of the ministry on a courtesy visit to the Bauchi State Governor at Bauchi.
According to the Minister, so far, 1,138,000 farmers have benefited through the initiative on job creation in agriculture, in all the 36 states of the federation, including the FCT, under the first phase in the 2020 farming season.
He said owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers across the country received massive support from the government in terms of funding, agro-chemicals and small scale equipment in all the states extension services outreach to farmers.
“In partnership with the state governments, the federal government is employing one million youths to serve as village agents. In Bauchi state, over 15,000 youths were employed to serve as enumerators. The plight of poultry farmers and the high cost of poultry feeds was a source of concern to the government. Thus, the federal government has directed the release of 5,000 metric tonnes of maize to the poultry industry from the strategic food reserve.
“I am aware that Bauchi State has potentials in the cultivation of rice and the state should expect more of federal government intervention to assist farmers.
“As a follow up support, the aggregation centers were established to support the rice farmers.
“In all, a total of 234 aggregation centers have so far been established nationwide and five aggregation centers are in operation in Bauchi State” he said
Responding, the State Governor commended the federal government initiative in boosting agriculture and rural development, saying the minister’s ministry is so critical in the diversification of the economy as well as enhancing growth and development in the country.
“Mr. President has done so much to show that the way to go is to develop agriculture and rural development because majority of our people are engaged in agriculture and those who voted him into power are living in the rural areas.
“Your ministry is so critical in developing the GDP in a manner that we can exit over dependence on government contracts and patronage and therefore your
youth empowerment support to Agriculture, extension services that you are giving is so critical to us in the state” he said.