The Federal Government said it had concluded plans to train about 200,000 youths in the country on seeds production, processing and packaging in its Agricultural Transformation Support Programme, Phase one (ATASP-1).
National Coordinator of ATASP-1, Mr Haruna Akwashiki, stated this at a strategic meeting to discuss the process of implementing the programme on Friday in Abuja.
He said that the training would commence in the first week of February and explained that programme was aimed at closing the demand gap in seeds production.
Akwashiki said that the programme was also geared toward creating employment and wealth across rice, cassava and sorghum value chains.
He said that ATASP-1 had three components of infrastructure development, commodity value chain development and programme management.
He explained that ATASP-1 would be implemented over a period of five years in 60 local government areas in Enugu, Anambra, Niger, Kebbi, Sokoto, Kano and Jigawa.
According to him, the programme will be funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Federal Government with the bank providing 152 million dollars and 23 million dollars by the government.
“ATASP 1 was developed by AfDB and Federal Ministry of Agriculture. The objective of this programme is to contribute to the agricultural development effort of the Federal Government.
“Under the programme, a large quantity of seeds will be produced by our youths and some of them will go into direct production of rice, sorghum and cassava.
“We will develop the agro processing capacity of 200,000 youths in different aspect of agricultural endeavours.
“We will ensure that the farmers produce about 120, 000 metric tons of assorted food crops for the country.
“Seventy per cent of the cost of the programme is for the development and construction of irrigation schemes, construction of feeder roads, rehabilitation of schools and health centres and markets.
“One of the problems in agriculture is the inability of farmers to have access to quality and quantity seeds for production,’’ he said.
In his contribution, Mr Ibrahim Manta, Zonal Coordinator of the programme in Niger, commended the Federal Government for the initiative.
Manta explained that the infrastructure development component of ASAP-1 was currently being implemented in the state.
“When you have good roads, farmers will be able to transport their produce to different places and that will make agriculture to become a business,’’ he said.
On his part, Mr Romanus Egba, Zonal Coordinator of the programme in Enugu and Anambra, said that the rehabilitation of the Adani irrigation rice project in Enugu state would be done under the programme.
According to him, this will increase the income of small-holder farmers and rural entrepreneurs.
Dr Gbassey Tarawali, the Head, Abuja Station of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), said that the institute was one of the implementing institutions of the project in the states.
Tarawali said that the institute would focus on the implementation of the cassava commodity value chain, AfricaRice on rice and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics for Sorghum value chain.
“We will work and mobilise farmers, give them improved variety seeds, train them to improve their yields and link them to the market,’’ he said.
ATASP 1 was launched in 2015 as part of efforts by the Federal Government to diversify the economy through agriculture.