No fewer than 2,050 youths from Bayelsa have been shortlisted to undergo agriculture empowerment training in four commodity areas of poultry, aquaculture, cassava and plantain farming.
The youths are beneficiaries of the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprise in Niger Delta (LIFE-ND) funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the state government.
Mr Abiodun Sanni, the National Project Coordinator, who spoke at the orientation in Yenegoa, said the training was to prepare the youths to become agripreneurs.
Sanni said the beneficiaries belonged to the fifth batch of LIFE-ND successful incubatees that had been selected after a rigorous screening by a selection team.
He said that the youths should count to count themselves lucky to belong to the LIFE-ND family.
“You were many that were screened but not all that were screened are here today because they did not meet the criteria required to be here.’’
Represented by Jerus Uvieghara, Knowledge Management and Communication Coordinator, IFAD LIFE-ND, Sani urged them to take the training seriously.
“I am sure you have seen our older beneficiaries within your community who will testify that this project is different from others because we are always in touch with our beneficiaries to monitor their progress and address their challenges.
“If you are serious, you will benefit a lot from the project; the project is called LIFE-ND project which means Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprise Project – Niger Delta (LIFE – ND).
“It is a Federal Government project financed with a loan from IFAD; IFAD is International Fund for Agricultural Development.
“You can see that it is loan taken by the Federal Government for the benefit of the citizens of the Niger Delta region to improve their livelihood and must be paid back; apart from IFAD another partner of this project is Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“The specific objective is to enhance income, food security and job creation for rural youth and women through agri-enterprise development on a sustainable basis in nine Niger Delta States of Abia, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Ondo, Akwa-Ibom, Imo and Rivers.
“The target is to generate 38,250 agrientrepreneurs using the incubation model which will be explained to you later including some financial benefits you are entitled to during the incubation process and upon graduation.
“The project works on the value chain of seven priority commodities namely rice, cassava, plantain, oil palm, cocoa, poultry, and fishery (aquaculture and artisanal).’’
He said the overall goal of LIFE–ND was transformation of the rural economy in which all the rural population could derive prosperity and equal benefit.
Sanni said the Project Development Objective (PDO) was to enhance income, job creation and food security for rural youth and women through agribusiness enterprise development in a sustainable manner for the Niger Delta region.
“Most people see the Niger-Delta youths as militants who go about destroying oil pipeline and making trouble but you and I know that Niger Delta youths are ready to make a living from hand work if given the opportunity.
“The LIFE-ND project is an opportunity for you all to prove this perception wrong and let everyone know that Niger Delta youths are hardworking.
“It may interest you to know that all members of staff of this project are from Niger Delta,” he said.
One of the beneficiaries Mrs Beatrice Ebi, commended LIFE-ND for the training, and empowerment, promising that they would put in their best.
Ebi also called on other non-governmental organisations to emulate LIFE-ND.