No fewer than 300 unemployed youths are undergoing training in agro-entrepreneurship in Abia under the FADAMA III Additional Financing Graduate Unemployed Youths and Women Scheme (GUYS).
The scheme is part of the job creation initiatives of the Federal Government, and it is based on a tripartite arrangement between the World Bank, Federal Government and the state government.
Newsmen report that the beneficiaries are receiving training in eight programmes – piggery, poultry, crops, low cost processing and storage, advisory extension and marketing services.
Others are fishery, homestead which covers animal production, plant production and human nutrition.
Addressing the trainees in Umuhia on Friday, FADAMA III National Project Coordinator, Dr Tayo Adewumi, said the programme was aimed at increasing water and land resources users’ income with a view to achieving food security.
He said that the training was fallout of a 200 million dollars-World Bank grant to boost food production in Nigeria.
Adewumi was represented by an official of the FADAMA III National Coordinating Office, Abuja, Mr Udeala Nduka.
He said that 23 states in the country were participating in the project, but regretted that Abia was coming in late due to the nonchalance of the past administration in the payment of counterpart funds.
“The current governor has made a commitment and was able to pay the counterpart contribution. Consequently, the state has received the first tranche of money for farmers,” he said.
Adewumi said that the scheme was targeted at unemployed youths and women within 18 years and 35 years, interested in making a living in agriculture.
He said that the intension was to keep successful trainees in the business for a minimum of three years, if not for a life time.
“We are collaborating with higher institutions to empower the trainees with the appropriate skills and at the end of this training, no fewer than 200 trainees will be empowered,” Adewumi said.
The FADAMA Programme Coordinator in the state, Dr Ezinne Otuka, said that the trainees were selected through a very thorough and transparent process.
Otuka said that the facilitators were renowned academics drawn from the collaborating institutions – Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike and Abia State University.
She said that the qualifying process for empowerment after the training would be competitive, adding that 200 trainees would receive a grant of not less than N700, 000 each as a start-up pack.
Otuka said that the state was able to participate in the scheme due to the interest of the governor in the empowerment of the youths and women.
“We owe a lot of gratitude to the governor for the prompt payment of the counterpart fund which qualified us to join in this programme and the beneficiaries should be grateful to him too,” Otuka said.
One of the trainees, Miss Nkiru-Akahara Chimamaka, said that the training had given her hope for survival as she had been without any form of job since graduating from a tertiary institution.
Chimamaka said that there was nothing wrong in being an agro-entrepreneur, adding that she would deploy the skills learnt in service to the nation.
“I did not believe that I could make it for this training. I heard about it, registered online and the next thing was an invitation for interview. So I am grateful to God for making it come through,’’ she said.