President Muhammadu Buhari has urged agencies involved in agriculture to include youth in leading modern farming methods.
The president affirmed this in Abuja on Tuesday when he launched the National Young Farmers Plan designed by the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) to elicit more interest from young people in agriculture.
He assured all concerned that an environment conducive to full participation would be created.
According to him, agriculture remains the backbone of the Nigerian economy, being the largest contributor to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“We will do more to expand, modernize and revolutionize our agriculture, which is our most important asset.
“I have ordered all abandoned NALDA farms to be reclaimed to allow thousands of our young men and women to go into agriculture.
“This administration will achieve agricultural mechanization through this scheme and I am confident that Nigeria, under my supervision, will achieve food security by producing most of what we eat.
“In good harvest years, we can even export our surpluses and earn foreign exchange,” he added.
Buhari expressed the hope that the revival of NALDA would make Nigeria’s food sufficient and, in a few years, it would begin to earn more income from the export of agricultural products.
“By virtue of my passion and desire for agriculture and also as a farmer, I am directly supervising NALDA as an authority under the Presidency.
“I ask the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the state governments to cooperate fully with NALDA in their activities.
“With the success of the Anchor Borrowers program spearheaded by the Central Bank of Nigeria and new programs to revive cotton, palm products and cocoa, the next few years will see a big difference in our agricultural performance.”
The president said all necessary approvals that NALDA required for an effective takeoff had been given, beginning with areas of proper land preparation for agriculture and livestock.
Therefore, he tasked the Executive Secretary / CEO of NALDA and his team to continue to meet expectations and increase their activities in local communities.
“I have been told that 4,333 families have benefited from this scheme so far and many more individuals and families are expected to benefit as the program is implemented.
“Now I point to the National Plan for Young Farmers. I hope the plan embraces young Nigerians, graduates and undergraduates alike, and is part of the government’s effort to reduce unemployment and contribute to the regeneration of agriculture and our economy. “
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Senate President Ahmed Lawan praised the president for his steadfastness in repositioning the agricultural sector since he took office and said the country had already felt the impact of the administration’s policies.
He said it was necessary to encourage agricultural agencies, such as NALDA, to work closely with research institutions in Nigerian universities.
NALDA Executive Secretary / CEO, Mr. Paul Ikonne, said that the discovery of oil in the country hampered the growth of agriculture and increased poverty in rural communities.
He assured the president that the concerted effort to revive interest in agriculture would address poverty and create wealth.
Ikonne said that the revival of NALDA, after almost 20 years of neglect, would go a long way toward reducing unemployment in the country, especially among young people.
“Our approach is to involve 1,000 farmers from each of the 774 local government areas, thus creating 774,000 direct jobs annually,” he added.
The goodwill messages were delivered by a representative of the Young Farmers, Fatima Usman Musa and the Danish Ambassador to Nigeria, Amb. Jesper Kamp.
Governors Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia. Kebbi’s Atiku Bagudu and Yobe’s Mai Mala Buni also participated in the event. (NAN)