It was a great Saturday on June 17th, 2017 when the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, hosted youths many of which were social media influencers and young entrepreneurs to a farm chat and Social Media Interaction.
During the farm chat, the Minister advised youths in the country to embrace agriculture as he announced that the present administration would soon launched the “Invent Your Future” programme.
The Minister further emphasized that farming is more profitable and to satisfy the urgent need, Nigeria has to put the right mechanisms in place in order to feed its teeming population which he put at 450 million people in the next 33 years. “If you have a piece of land ,go into plantations such as banana, cashew nuts, coconut, plantain, sesame seeds, gum Arabic among other crops” , he stated.
Ogbeh noted that the average age of a farmer in Nigeria is 65 years old and said the Federal Government was taking proactive measures to mechanize agriculture by bringing in modern technology to attract young farmers into the sector.
The Minister enumerated various challenges facing the sector which include the high rate of interest rate by commercial banks and explained that the Bank of Agriculture were being restructured to serve as both commercial and development bank for farmers while branches will be opened at every local government area of the federation and government was working towards achieving a single digit interest rate loan for Nigerian farmers. He added that the Bank of Agriculture would be segmented to cater for every segment of the society which would include the youths.
To tackle the clash between farmers and herdsmen in the country, the Minister said 3,000 Agro Rangers were being trained under the Civil Defense to protect farms while lands were also being acquired in some states of the federation to create cattle colonies, this statement by the minister further gave hope to youths who were concerned about the insecurity in farmlands.
He said about 10,000 extension workers were also being trained under the N-power programme of the Federal Government to cater for the needs of Nigerian farmers. It could also be noted that these extension workers are all youths as the N-Power programme only recruits Nigerians from age 18 to 35years.
The Minister disclosed that about 200 rice mills would be distributed to farmers next week and maintained that the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprise “LIFE” of his administration would create an atmosphere for food processing mills to be established in rural areas to create wealth and jobs for the rural women and youths.
After the farm chat, Abuja Facts could confirm that a reasonable number of questions which put the Nigerian youths in doubt about Agriculture in Nigeria were attended to thereby raising the hopes of the youths as many are already thinking critically about ways to key into farming in Nigeria as they quoted in their comments on the social media.
The team took a tour of a farm land in Kuje Area Council which deals in poultry farming and fishery, the Minister also emphasized on the enormous opportunities to raise income, promote agriculture and also bridge the gap between food production and the teeming population of Nigeria in need of it.
The Minister urged state governments to give more support to the development of agricultural sector and asked the team of social media influencers to pass the message of hope across to the public.
For more on the farm chat and interactive session, search the Hashtag #HMAgricMeets on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.