By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
Hundreds of Niger Delta youths who just returned from Israel, after an intensive training in the various areas of agriculture, have declared that they are prepared to commence professional and commercial agriculture in their respective states.
Speaking during a meeting with the supervising Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Darius Ishaku, the youths promised to deploy the knowledge and skills which they have acquired in Israel to ensure that agriculture becomes commercialised and professionalised in Nigeria.
President of the graduates, Bolie Onueli, also said that they would work towards transferring the knowledge to other youths in their various states, adding that in few months time, their produce will hit the markets.
Meanwhile, in question and answer session, the graduates urged the minister to work closely with their respective state Governors and the Minister of Agriculture to provide them with enough land space to practice the mechanised farming they have learnt.
They pointed out that the scale of farming they learnt was not such to take place on 1000 or 2000 square kilometres, saying the sizes of land they have in their communities is small to accommodate what they were taught in Israel.
Others further called for assistance from the ministry and the state governments to enable them secure soft and long-term credits facilities from financial institutions to facilitate their takeoff.
Responding, the supervising minister of Niger Delta, Darius Ishaku, advised them to remain focus in their vision, urging them to use the knowledge they have acquired to improve the nation’s economy.
Ishaku said oil may not be the main stay of Nigeria’s economy in few years to come, pointing out that given the mass arable land in Nigeria, agricultural sector has a great potential to employ a lot of youths and generate revenue to sustain the country.
He told them not to be deterred by the takeoff challenges, promising that the ministry will consult relevant stakeholders, including other ministries and financial institutions to mitigate those challenges.
The minister further urged them to put their knowledge to practical use, even as he emphasised the need for them to empower and impact same knowledge to other youths in their states.
Highlight of the meeting was the distribution of smartphones and tablets made in Niger Delta region by graduates of ICT training in the area.