Nigeria’s agriculture programme creates 299,475 jobs

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The Nigerian Government’s Agricultural Transformation Support Programme, Phase One (ATASP-1) has created no fewer than 299, 475 direct and indirect jobs in its seven participating states.The National Programme Coordinator of ATASP-1, Mr .Haruna Akwashiki said in Abuja at a meeting organized to review the programme implementation in 2017 and plans for 2018.

Akwashiki said that 40,000 youths haave also been trained in various agribusiness activities.

He listed the participating states as Anambra, Enugu, Kano, Jigawa, Kebbi, Sokoto and Niger states.

He, however, noted that cultural and religious beliefs are among some of the factors hindering efforts to reach women farmers in the states

Analysing the programme’s plans for 2018, Akwashiki noted that ATASP-1 would concentrate on capacity building of youths, in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts to take idle youths off the streets.

He said that the youths would receive training in seeds production, agro-chemicals application and mobile threshing methods for rice and sorghum, among others.

Besides, the national programme coordinator said that improved seeds would be procured and distributed to ATASP-1 beneficiaries in the seven states.”This meeting is to review ATASP-1 performance in 2017 and plan for 2018 to come up with the way forward; 2018 is a critical year for ATASP-1.

“This year will be a year of accelerated delivery for the programme.

We want to stimulate crop production, processing and marketing through aggressive capacity building for the programme beneficiaries,’’ he said.

Akwashiki said that contracts for the construction of feeder roads and irrigation schemes in the participating states, under the infrastructure development component of the programme, would be awarded before the first quarter of 2018.

D.r Oyesola Oyebanji, the Lead Facilitator of the programme, advised the state coordinators of the programme to educate farmers on ways to practise climate smart agriculture.

He said that the adoption of climate smart agriculture would reduce the effect of climate change on agricultural production.

ATASP-1, which is jointly funded by the Nigerian Government and the African Development (AfDB), commenced in 2015.

Its main objective is to facilitate the achievement of food and nutrition security, employment generation, wealth creation and import substitution in the country.

Adama.L