The Nigerian government and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), have inaugurated a youth agriculture advocacy platform in Cross River State. The inauguration, which was done in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Livelihood Initiatives Family Enterprise for Niger Delta, IFAD LIFE-ND, was held in Calabar. The IFAD, LIFE-ND Project is expected to address the growing number of restive youths by sustainably enhancing incomes, food security and creating jobs for women and youths in the Niger Delta.
Addressing youths in the state during the inauguration, State Project Coordinator, Innocent Ogbin, stated that the programme was designed to empower youths, as white collar jobs get more scarce. Ogbin said the initiative strives to give youths the hope that all was not lost, only if they see agriculture as business, and not a hobby. “As young people, the perception that agriculture is the job for retirees should be discarded. We invited you here today, especially the National Youth Council of Nigeria NYCN, as the umbrella body for youths to spread the message to help youths reinvent their path to growth and development through this platform”, he said.
In his response, the Chairman, NYCN Cross River Council, Dan Obo, commended initiators of the project, especially officials in the state office on their fair and open disposition. Obo said he had heard about IFAD LIFE-ND and was impressed with the support rendered to beneficiaries through the provision of inputs, technical, financial and infrastructure support. “If all the government interventions were to be this transparent, lot of issues bedevilling society today would have been addressed. “However, I am optimistic that with the speed at which IFAD LIFE-ND was delivering, lots of young persons are already encouraged and are gearing up to go into agriculture”, he said.
Similarly, the Gender and Youth Officer, Cross River Rural Institution, Mrs. Ewor Edet, said that the event was for stakeholders to brainstorm on challenges affecting the youth in agriculture within the Niger Delta area. Edet also disclosed that the event was inclusive, as youth from other sectors were in attendance, to chart a new future of agriculture in the state. Participants were divided into three groups, to discuss issues such as access to land and gender, market, production, security challenges, risk insurance and cooperative issues.