FG Eyes 3.5 million jobs by 2015


GOODLUCK-JONATHAN_2906771bThe federal government has expressed its readiness to increase domestic food production by additional 20 million metric tonnes for the populace and create about 3.5 million jobs by 2015.

President Goodluck Jonathan disclosed this at the presidential inauguration of the National Schools Agriculture Programme (NSAP) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to Jonathan, this would be possible through the administration’s Agriculture Transformation Agenda (ATA) programme targeted at positive youth development.

Meanwhile, in recognition of their contribution to agricultural development and food security in the country, the federal government, yesterday honoured some stakeholders in the sector.

Among those decorated by President Jonathan at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa is the president of the Rice Millers and Importers of Nigeria (RiMIDAN), Dr. Tunji Owoeye.

Others are former military Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), former Chief of General, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. T.Y. Danjuma, business mogul, Aliko Dangote, Transcorp chief, Tony Elumelu as well as Nigeria’s songstress, Onyeka Owenu and Kwara State PDP stakeholder, Mrs. Bola Shagaya, Wilma Aguele and Senator Nimi Amange.

“The ATA programme is targeted at positive youth development, to harnessing the power of the young people to make better choices. Through our programmes we have been able to provide articulate leadership training, guidance in career options, competence and confidence initiatives to youths.

“The NSAP initiative is a catch them young programme that will give the opportunity to see agriculture as a business enterprise. The president also expressed delight that Nigerian farmers have been able to produce over 70 per cent of the nationwide target of 2015.
He said there was an unprecedented 15 per cent sufficiency in rice production and even as the nation maintained the position of the largest producer of cassava in the world at about 35 metric tons annually.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the administration was giving mechanised farming priority which earlier berthed the N50 billion Agricultural Mechanisation Programme.

Adesina said Nigeria had made remarkable transformation in agriculture, adding that cutlasses and hoes would be kept at museums.

“Hoes and cutlasses are not technologies, that is why this administration has made historic landmarks in the past six years in transformations. Because of the hoes and cutlasses, the youths have always seen farming as a poor man’s job. Youth Empowerment and Agriculture Programme also launched by the president to develop young agricultural farmers. I am delighted with the establishment of the NSAP to engage our young ones to begin to see agriculture as a viable and profitable business,” Adesina stated.

He disclosed that all the students present at the event would be automatically registered under the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme.

Adesina said the present administration was supporting farmers through electronic inputs via voucher on their mobile phones which is first in Africa and recognised around the world.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on NSAP, Dr Baraka Sani,  said the initiative was a human capital initiative to build economic growth.

Sani said the NSAP was to build on the leadership opportunities of the youths, using a known approach but a non-formal curriculum.

“The initiative is to bring out hidden talents in our youths that basically the curriculum will not bring out,” Sani said.

She added that the youths under the scheme were registered free and would help participating schools to see the economical side to school farming.

The initiative would kick-start in 12 schools which would later expand to other schools across the nation.

The Chief Executive Officer, Elephant Group Africa,   Dr. Tunji Owoeye, who also is the President Rice Millers and Importers Dealers Association of Nigeria (RiMIDAN), said the gesture was the right step in the right direction. According to Owoeye, government was not only involving agribusiness stakeholders but they are involving youths, agro-based businesses pinions and school children.

“We are making significant impact to the sub-conscious being of the Nigerian youth to build on the successes of government in pushing agriculture to a mechanised form. Government is organising developmental programmes and incentives for youths and providing subsidised inputs. Government is providing the legislative enabling environment and supporting youths to boost our GDP and increase the number of those engaged in farming,” Owoeye said.

The NSAP initiative is a comprehensive agricultural programme that will introduce young students to various opportunities in the sector and to build technical and enterpreneurship skills in students to run agriculture as a business and to equip school leavers with practical skills to create jobs

In the pilot scheme, the School Agriculture Club (SAC) will be established in 12 selected schools across the six geo-political zones, each comprising of 120 students.

The focus is on vegetable production, horticulture, aquaculture, poultry, apiary and livestock production, small scale irrigation, processing and packaging.

An effective implementation of NSAP will act as a catalyst for agricultural development and poverty alleviation through closing the gap between existing farmers and diversifying the economy.


[This Day]