Executive Secretary, NALDA, Paul Ikonne flangs by some of the 200 beneficiaries. Photo: Zaccheaus Babalola
AS food production becomes global attention, the National Agricultural Lands Development Authority, NALDA, Wednesday, disclosed sending 200 young farmers for capacity building on crop production and animal husbandry in Israel and Morocco.
Speaking during the official handing over of travel documents to the beneficiaries in Abuja, the Executive Secretary, NALDA, Paul Ikonne, explained that it is a continuation of the National Young Farmers Scheme, NYFS, programme that President Muhammadu Buhari flagged off some time ago.
He said this is a directive from Mr President to ensure these youths are actively involved in food production, especially after launching the NYFS, shortly he was sworn-in in 2019, and that saved Nigeria in terms of food availability during the emergence of the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic, if not Nigeria would have gone to other countries cap in hand begging for food.
According to him, 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.
Mr 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 these 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 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.
Executive Secretary, NALDA, Paul Ikonne hands over travel documents to the beneficiaries in Abuja. Photo: Zacchaeus Babalola
Mr 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 about 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 of this trip. I want to appreciate the effort of the President by building youth capacity in agriculture because building the youths is building the nation. I am ready to acquire more knowledge on crop production.
An Agriculture Educationist, Ifunnaya Ekot, said, “I am in agriculture education but very interested in educating the next generation on agricultural processes, agricultural schemes, better ways to farm, especially in this day and age.
“I think we are all seeing what’s happening in Ukraine, and that is affecting so much of the agricultural supply. The Executive Secretary said in a brief meeting that if not for the wise counsel of Mr President, Nigeria would have probably been among those that will be stranded when it comes to the food supply, and food security, they may have been a food shortage.
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 doing and I’m running a small scale farm business in my village,
Reporting by Zacchaeus Babalola; Editing by Abdullahi Lamino