Upev Fidelia Wandoo, a graduate of Business Management, is one among the 35 young entrepreneurs in Benue State who are being mentored in agricultural business by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) known as Royaldream Builders Initiative (RBI).
Wandoo who was selected for training in agriculture business out of over 700 people that initially applied for the opportunity was already prospering in her chosen line of poultry farm located in Makurdi, Benue state.
Another trainnee, Tersoo Dio, holds a degree in Sociology and Master’s degree in Gender Studies but has dumped the certificates for rice farming in Tse-Agbaragba community of Konshisha Local Government Area of Benue state after learning more about rice production.
The duo and 33 others are already savouring the gains of farming business in their different specialised areas, such as poultry, piggery, fish farming as well as crop cultivation.
They are also undergoing a six-week training after which they would be supported with funds to expand their businesses, that may now require additional hands, thus, making them employers of labour and adding values to the economic potential of the agrarian state.
Founder of RBI, Dr. John Onah, said that the project, tagged, “Agriculture Business Incubation” Programme, aimed at promoting entrepreneurship among young people is funded by the Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy in Nigeria.
“The idea is to encourage more young people to go into agriculture. We started a set of workshops in December for about 700 people in Makurdi and Otukpo Local Government Areas of the state. After the workshop, we went through an assessment and selected about 35 young people for further training and mentorship with experts from the University of Agriculture,” he said.
Onah added that the beneficiaries who are drawn from the three senatorial districts of the state would be given a minimum of N100,000 each in form of inputs to expand their farming businesses as he expressed optimism that their decision to become self-reliant would pay them in no small measures.
“Majority of the beneficiaries are poultry farmers but we have a few cassava farmers, we have rice farmers, cowpea and soya beans farmers. We also have pig and fish farmers among them. At the end of the six weeks programme, we will be giving the beneficiaries a minimum of N100,000 to set up their own business.
“It’s a grant we are giving them but it would be in form of inputs. We are also working with Benue Investments and Property Company (BIPC) and they are meant to expand that support with inputs and with land. And that is why we have stakeholders from the Ministry of Agriculture to see how the state government can augment what the US Embassy is doing,” Dr Onah posited.
At one of the training session held in Makurdi, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, James Anbua commended RBI for the project and promised that the Ministry would support beneficiaries with farm Inputs such as fertilisers, improved seedlings and linkage to processors at very subsidized rates.
Anbua who was represented by the Director of Agricultural Services, Thomas Unongo, also encouraged the beneficiaries to link up with the state Ministry of Lands and Survey for access to Farm lands across all local governments in Benue state.
While the State Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Comrade Aondonna Kuhe, said he was happy to see more young and educated people getting more interested in agriculture just as he invited beneficiaries to join AFAN and promised that the body would play key roles in mentoring younger farmers.
Meanwhile, the Project Director of RBI, Attah Ochoga, also spoke to the beneficiaries on the commitment expected of them to mentor at least 10 young people in their communities for multiplier effect.
The beneficiaries, appreciated the privilege for them to have been selected from among hundreds of people to partake in the training and the grant even as they expressed optimism of record breaking successes in their chosen farming business.