Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti says he will revive and expand the state’s Youth Commercial Agriculture Development (YCAD) programme by attracting more youths to the scheme.
Fayemi told the our correspondent on the sidelines of the AgraInnovate West Africa 2018 conference and exhibition in Lagos that his administration planned to employ 1,500 youths under the initiative.
It was reported that Ekiti State Government launched the Youth Commercial Agriculture Development Programme (YCAD) in 2012 during Fayemi’s first stint as governor.
The initiative is intended to turn the farm settlements in the state into Centres of Excellence in Agriculture and to ensure all-round production of cash crops in the state.
“We are going to expand the project. We will provide capacity via technical and vocational education for those youths who need them.
“The days of farming with hoes and cutlasses are over. The reality is that there are no young person who have left university whom we are trying to encourage into agriculture that will want to do it in the traditional way.
“We have to provide mechanism to attract young farmers into the agricultural sector and that can only be through full development of the entire value chain from planting to processing to marketing.
“Those are more likely to attract young people more than when you just say come to my village in Ekiti and farm. What does that mean to an average young person?’’ Fayemi said.
The governor recalled that the programme provided five hectares of land to each farmer, gave them seedlings, tools to support their activities, and in some cases found markets for them, after cultivating crops they were interested in.
Fayemi said that the role of government in agriculture was to be an enabler by providing financial incentives, tax rebates, seedling support and general climate for the entire value chain.
According to him, this will ensure that when the farmers produce the food it could be aggregated, and then taken to the market in a relatively easier manner.
“It is not the place of government to get into agribusiness. I don’t believe government should be running farms,’’ Fayemi said.
Fayemi noted that Ekiti indigenes were known either as farmers or professors, saying that there must be a way to synergise its agricultural endowments with its knowledge economy.
“We must make sure that agriculture becomes a powerful tool for poverty reduction and wealth production.’’
He commended AgraInnovate West Africa trade show for bringing together players in agribusiness to engage with those on the technological cutting edge of agriculture and financial promoters in the sector.
“Coming to the AgraInnovate is a wonderful opportunity for me. I won’t give it up for anything else.
“The combination of private sector players, government, experts, diplomatic community, researchers, actual farmers and investors is very impressive.
“There are very few places where you have these agglomeration of people who are involved in promoting food security, agricultural development growth and poverty reduction,’’ the governor said.
Agrainnovate West Africa is an annual agricultural production, processing and manufacturing trade show, which is in its fifth year.
The AgraInnovate Programme Director, Mrs Folusho Olaniyan said that the two-day event which ended on Friday hosted about 4000 visitors, over 50 exhibitors and over 30 free practical seminars on hot agribusiness topics.