The Director-General of Voice of Nigeria, (VON) Mr Osita Okechukwu has called on Nigerian youths to join the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Agrarian Revolution going on nationwide.
Okechukwu, who made the call while addressing youths in Enugu on Sunday, maintained that the Federal Government cannot employ 10 percent of millions of unemployed graduates looking for jobs.
He passionately appealed to Nigerian youth “to join the agrarian revolution now that we are entering the rainy season.”
Stressing why youths should go back to farming, the VON helmsman explained that agriculture remains the mainstay of the country’s economy, highest employer of labour and highest contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“May I candidly appeal to our youths nationwide to join President Muhammadu Buhari’s Agrarian Revolution, especially now that we are entering the farming season.
“The truth of our situation is that we must go back to land, as agriculture still remains the mainstay of our economy, the highest employer of Labour and highest contributor to our Gross Domestic Product. Methinks that both federal and state governments cannot employ up to 10 percent of millions of our unemployed graduates,” he said.
Responding to the concern of the youths on the issue of prohibitive bank interest rate and collateral which hinder access to fund for farming, the chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), said the agrarian revolution has different segments, such as the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), which has no direct interest rate attached to the Small Holder Farmers (SHF).
He explained further: “For the avoidance of doubt, the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) was launched on November 17, 2015, by Mr President to create a new generation of farmers and link them with Agro-Processing companies, called Anchor in this instance. The Central Bank of Nigeria in the Anchor Borrowers Programme shielded the Small Holder Farmers (SHF) from prohibitive interest rate thus deepened financial inclusion.”
“In fact the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in collaboration with some State governments clear the farmland, provide high yield seedlings, provide fertilizer and the farmers harvest the produce commodities and hand over to Anchor companies which off-take the farm products,” the VON boss said.
Citing as example, billions of naira invested in the irrigation of Adanu/Omo farm belt to engage more than 10,000 rice farmers this years, Okechukwu told the audience that the Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Water Resources had invested heavily in irrigation and provision of farm inputs to migrate Small Holder Farmers to Mechanized Farmers.
He urged Nigerians, especially the youth, to buy-into these farming opportunities to benefit from the spread of prosperity which the Buhari’s Agrarian Revolution was intended for.
“The Agrarian Revolution involves Rice, Cassava, Cocoa, Palm Oil, Groundnuts, Pepper, Sogume. Fishery, Poultry, Cattle Ranching etc,” he said.
On the sordid issue of Farmers/Herders clashes which have debarred many farmers from their farmland, Okechukwu said nobody was happy about the menace, but noted with satisfaction that the State and Federal governments were up in arms with the criminals on both sides.