The National Agricultural Lands Development Authority, NALDA, Wednesday, disclosed of sending 200 young farmers for capacity building on crop production and animal husbandry in Israel and Morocco.
The Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer, NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne, explained that it is a continuation of the National Young Farmers Scheme, NYFS, programme that President Muhammadu Buhari flagged off sometime ago.
Speaking during the official handing over of travel documents to the beneficiaries in Abuja,Ikonne
said this is a directive from Mr President to ensure these youths are actively involved in food production.
He said the aim is also to make agriculture more attractive to the youths as the training will expose and equip them on modern agriculture and agribusiness, which will lead to massive food production for Nigerians and for more exportation of food.
Ikonne further stated sending the 200 young farmers to Israel and Morocco is part of the new programme called ‘Aggressive Food Production’ in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.
He also said the youths who are drawn from the 36 states of the federation will be there for six days while they undergo intensive training on greenhouse farming and animal husbandry, and he explained that Israel and Morocco were chosen because they have the expertise in these areas.
According to him all expenses paid by the Federal Government as contained in NALDA’s budget, and they will be back to their localities to train other young people on NALDA’s integrated farm estates in their areas.
He said: “The Federal Government is sending through NALDA 200 young farmers. It is a continuation of the National Young Farmers Scheme, NYFS, programme that Mr President flagged off.
“And these 200 youths will be engaged in the process of learning proper crop production and greenhouse management, and 100 youth will be engaged in animal husbandry, slaughtering processing of meat.
“So we are sending them to countries that we know have strong expertise on what we are doing; Israel and Morocco, and this is to enhance their knowledge and to expose them to modern day practice in crop production and animal husbandry, so 200 young farmers would be sent for capacity building in Israel and Morocco.
“So when this people go and get exposed, the next question will be how will you be engaged and integrated because we already have a platform like the institutional properties, the land from the schools, state governments and their communities definitely it makes it easier for them to be integrated. They will be trained on general crop production and greenhouse management.
“They will begin to teach others this is what we saw there, this is how to do it and we will get better yield. So NALDA’s own will be much different and beneficial to the country because we have where they will be integrated when they come back from the training. So that is what makes NALDA’s programme more sustainable and unique.”
The NALDA boss also explained about the criteria used to select the 200 young farmers, “We sent out messages to stakeholders, and the stakeholders selected and sent their names, and we are making sure that all the 36 states in the federation would participate in this train so that it makes it easier when they come back from this training they would be able to train the people within their state and their locality.
“So the total number like I said before is 200 young farmers that would be sent on this capacity building to Israel.”
However, he made it clear that, “The training is budgeted for in our budget because what ever that is not budgeted for cannot be implemented. The most important thing we have budgeted is the capacity building.
“No matter what it cost to send people to get training, the most important thing is we are building a new generation of farmers that would drive Nigeria’s agriculture going forward that should be the key.”
Ikonne charged the 200 youths to be good ambassadors of Nigeria, and should focus on what they would be trained on, and they have a great task in their hands to deliver when they return as far as training other young farmers back home is concerned.
Some of the beneficiaries spoke on the training and what they expect after the training.
Hassan Atiku, a farmer from Katsina State, said “I cultivate maize and millet beside foodstuff. I am very happy that I am one of the beneficiaries to this trip. I want to appreciate the effort of the President by building youth capacity on agriculture because building the youths is building the nation. I am ready to acquire more knowledge on crop production.
“My expectations include learning of new skills, modern techniques of farming that I will come and spread it to my people and I promise to be a good ambassador of Nigeria. I will try and abide by all the rules.”
An Agriculture Educationist, Ifunnaya Ekot, said, “I am very interested in educating the next generation on agricultural processes, agricultural schemes, better ways to farm, especially in this modern day and age.
So, I am very interested in seeing better ways to grow crops in Nigeria. I am very excited, very grateful for the opportunity, especially when it comes to educating myself first before you can educate others.
“So, I think it is an excellent scheme. Definitely, I appreciate the President, I appreciate the Executive Secretary of NALDA, and also the Nigerian Young Farmers Scheme for having this platform to empower youths, making sure that you know that agricultural finding is not something that you should be ashamed of. I mean, food is important for survival.”
On Ekot’s vision, she said, “Definitely, to empower others with education. So, I believe in educating, if we know the right ways to do things, then practicing it well will be easy.
“The goal is to hopefully, set up a greenhouse of my own and then, utilize what we have learnt there.”
Another beneficiary from Abia State, Julius Ugochukwu Nwokoma, said, “I am very happy to be part of this programme. Agriculture has been one of my dreams and I am running a small scale farm business in my village.
“So I am proud to be here and I want to appreciate the President for funding us and I want to beg you to encourage more of our youth to go back to the farm. In society today, our youths have been into many things; yahoo, they are not doing anything.
“I want to use this opportunity to tell you to encourage us and to thank the Executive of NALDA for what he is doing, but more should be done so that we can go back to the farm.
“This opportunity will help me to apply more knowledge about farming and to improve my own farming business, and it will help me to encourage and engage my fellow youths, and tell them what farming is all about, so that they can go back to the farm.”