President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that more youth be involved in driving modern agriculture as their contribution to the regeneration of the sector was imperative.
The president gave the charge on Tuesday to all agricultural agencies when he launched the new National Young Farmers Scheme at the State House in Abuja.
He called on the agencies directly involved in agriculture to further streamline their priorities to create an enabling environment for young Nigerians participation.
The National Young Farmers Scheme is designed by the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) to spur more youth interest in farming.
Justifying the inclusion of youths in the sector, Buhari said that agriculture remained the backbone of the Nigerian economy, being the largest contributor to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He said, “We will do more to expand, modernize and revolutionise our agriculture, which is our most important asset.
“I have directed that all NALDA’s abandoned farm estates be retrieved to enable thousands of our young men and women to be engaged in farming.
“This administration will be achieving agricultural mechanisation through this scheme and I am confident that Nigeria under my watch, we will achieve food security in producing most of what we eat. In good harvest years, we may even export our surpluses and earn foreign exchange”.
The president also stated that the resuscitation of NALDA will make Nigeria food sufficient and earn more revenue from the export of agricultural commodities in the coming years.
“By virtue of my passion and desire for agriculture and also as a farmer myself, I am directly supervising NALDA as an authority under the Presidency,” he added
He further urged the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) as well as State Governments to fully support NALDA in its activities.
He explained that with the success of Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) spearheaded by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and new programmes to revive cotton, palm products and cocoa, the next few years will see a vast difference in our agricultural performance.
Buhari stated that all the necessary approvals that NALDA required for effective take-off which begins with areas of adequate land preparation for crop farming and livestock rearing, has been given.
He, therefore, charged the Executive Secretary/CEO of NALDA and his team to continue to live up to expectations and increase their activities in local communities.
“I am told that, so far, 4,333 families have benefited from this scheme and it is expected that many more individuals and families will benefit as the programme is rolled out”
“I now flag off the National Young Farmers’ Scheme. It is my expectation that the Scheme will take in young Nigerians, graduates and non-graduates alike, and be part of this Government’s effort to reduce unemployment and contribute to the regeneration of agriculture and our economy,” Buhari said.
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