By Festus Ahon, Asaba
Delta State Job and Wealth Creation Bureau, has flagged off the 2020/2021 Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme, YAGEP, cycle with an orientation workshop for 158 crop farmers.
Addressing the beneficiaries, the Chief Job and Wealth Creation Officer of the State, Prof Eric Eboh, Tuesday, said YAGEP was aimed at creating jobs and wealth by training, establishing and supporting youths to become agricultural entrepreneurs who would be gainfully self-employed and employers of labour.
He explained that the Orientation and Farm Enterprise Training, OFET was organized to enrol and familiarize the beneficiaries with the principles and methods of YAGEP with special reference to key management topics and issues such as critical success factors in farm enterprise management, farm records and accounts, managing risks and uncertainties in agricultural production and agricultural insurance by Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation.
While listing the categories of YAGEP as Green YAGEP and Brown YAGEP, he said Green YAGEP were youths who were freshers in agricultural enterprises but required training in a chosen agricultural skill followed with the provision of facilities, materials and financial support to start-up and run an agricultural enterprise.
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According to him, Brown YAGEP were youths who already had agricultural skills and own agricultural enterprises but needed refresher training in practical and managerial skills plus support packages to grow and sustain their existing enterprises.
Disclosing that YAGEP has run five successful cycles with a total of 1,174 beneficiaries who were trained, established and supported in various agricultural enterprises including poultry, crop production, piggery, fish production, agro-processing and agribusiness, from 2015 to 2020, he said YAGEP was in its sixth cycle.
Eboh said 400 beneficiaries would be enrolled in Fish Production, Poultry, Piggery and Crop Production out of which only 158 of them in Crop Production were present for the first batch of OFET.
He said; “the 2020-2021 cycle is the 6th consecutive run of the programme. Specifically, it will cover a total of 400 youth agricultural entrepreneurs in the Brown YAGEP category. The programme commences with Orientation and Farm Enterprise Training (OFET) for 2020/2021 Brown YAGEP beneficiaries (1st Batch) holding today 25th of May 2021.
“The enterprises covered in the 2020-2021 programme cycle are poultry, piggery, fish production and cultivation of arable crops including cassava, yam, maize, rice, tomato, okra, watermelon, pumpkin and plantain.
“The farm enterprise training workshop will be followed with the provision of support packages to the beneficiaries such as fertilizer; animal feeds; crop agrochemicals; livestock vaccination; cash to pay for critical farm labour in land preparation; weeding; animal husbandry and harvesting; innovative production technologies and profitable agribusiness depending on the type of farm enterprise.
“YAGEP is contributing significantly to agricultural outputs and overall growth of the agricultural sector in Delta State. Estimates show that, from 2015-2020, YAGEP beneficiaries have produced 1,689.87 metric tonnes of poultry, 61,358,690 eggs and 4,977.98 metric tonnes of fish.
“In addition, YAGEP outputs include 1,706.91 metric tonnes of pig, 1,109.23 metric tonnes of cassava roots, 1,339.58 metric tonnes of grains, 477.70 metric tonnes of plantain and 1,753.87 metric tonnes of vegetables namely tomatoes, watermelon and cucumber. A recent survey shows that the success rate among YAGEP beneficiaries averages about 71% across the various agricultural enterprises.”
The Executive Assistant to the Governor on Youth Monitoring and Mentoring, Mr Edward Mekwunye, who also spoke at the ceremony, told the beneficiaries to make good use of the opportunity given them by the State Government to become great entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector.
Two of the beneficiaries of the programme, Omenogor Azuka, a plantain farmer and Abiaka Henry, a Cassava farmer, who spoke separately, thanked the State Government for the initiative, expressing hope that the support package would help them to expand their farms from levels of subsistence to commercial farming.