By Chioma Onuegbu
MKPAT ENIN- THE current leadership of Mkpat Enin Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, has ventured into agriculture as part of its strategy to deal with poverty and youth unemployment in the area.
Council acquires 7 hectares of land
Chairman of the council, Mr. Ekanem Brown, who disclosed this when NDV visited the farm located in Mkpat Enin village, said involvement of youths in agriculture would help them to become self- employed and shift attention from non-existent white collar jobs.
He asserted: “The council acquired seven hectares of land to establish demonstration farms to teach modern agricultural methods and farming techniques to youths in the area. So far, more than 1,000 bags of cucumber harvested from the farm had been sold in Akwa Ibom markets in the last one year.
“The farms are supervised by local government staff while many unemployed youths in the area have already been trained in the demonstration farms and have already begun to cultivate and make profits in their own farms. The target is to produce at least 200 growers of cucumber, pepper, water melon and tomatoes in the short run. We have different species of pepper, cucumber and water melon,” the chairman said.
His words: “Before we started this, one of my challenges was which area of farming would produce more result, but I was guided by Akwa Ibom Employment and Enterprise Scheme, AKEES, which advised us to go into cultivation of water melon, cucumber and other fast yielding crops.
“Soon, we will shift from farming to off-taking. And we expect to have more 200 young people going into this area of farming and we will give them seedlings and tractors, then you produce, I come and off-take from you. Right now, many of them are still learning.
“I am taking this involvement of youths in agriculture very seriously, although this is still a demonstration farm. Also I intend to extend this to secondary schools here, and the idea is to encourage some of them develop interest in agriculture,” he added.