Job Creation: High Hopes For Farmers, As NDDC Promises Empowerment

As part of the plan of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to advance food security and promote youth employment within Niger Delta region, the commission has pledged to support small-holder farmers to grow their operations and become training centers for youths.

NDDC Executive Director of Projects, Sir Victor Antai, who spoke during an inspection visit to some farms in Akwa Ibom State, hinted on the Commission’s commitment to leveraging on the agricultural potential of the Niger Delta region; also promoting the shift from traditional to mechanised farming methods.

In their various views, Sir Antai, who was accompanied by the commission’s Director, Agriculture and Fisheries, Mrs. Winifred Madume and the Director of Commercial and Industrial Development, Dr. Godwin Nosiri, expressed delight at the enthusiasm shown by young farmers in boosting food production; adding that the Commission would purchase modern farming equipment, such as tractors, to boost its agricultural initiatives, notably the Holistic Opportunities, Projects, and Engagement, HOPE, project.

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Furthermore, Antai recalled that the commission was collaborating with the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, RIFAN, while maintaining that the Niger Delta region was blessed with the right ingredients for growing various crops and vegetables.

According to Sir Antai:
“Following the directive of our Managing Director, Dr Samuel Ogbuku, we have incorporated regular project inspections in our routine activities for effective delivery on the NDDC mandate.

“The Niger Delta region because of the arable wetlands, rainfalls and other favourable ecological factors is in a better position to plant various crops and vegetables at least four times within a farming season.

“We are trying to move away from the oil economy and the sector which can accommodate our youths in large number is the agricultural sector. We also want to move from subsistent agriculture to mechanized farming in order to harness all the opportunities that the Niger Delta region has to offer.

“The Project HOPE’ initiative seeks to engage youths of the region by creating employment opportunities for them, especially in agriculture.”
“In fulfilling the Renewed Hope Agenda of the President Bola Tinubu, the NDDC introduced the youth empowerment programme, which has agriculture as one of its key components.”

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Meanwhile, the resource person for Project HOPE, Ambassador Blessing Fubara, noted that second phase of the youth empowerment programme would focus on commercial agriculture, information and communication technology, as well as assisting youths in the creative industry.

He further revealed that the first strategy of the project was designed to create jobs for the youths through the development of agro-allied industries in the nine Niger Delta states according to their potentials and resources.

Moreso, the Chairman of the Commercial Farmers Association, Mr. Aniebet Antia, who spoke at his farm in Ikot Ebom Itam in Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, observed inadequate capital as the major constraint to commercial farming, stating that with proper funding, small-holder farmers would contribute substantially to food production in the country.

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However, the Asuakak Farms at Ididep Usuk in Ibiono Ibom, Local Government Area, managed by a young farmer, Mr. Kufre Joseph, was also on the list of those farm lands inspected by the NDDC team.
The farmland had a variety of crops, including cassava, Cabbage, cucumber, carrots, tomatoes and pepper.

By Aligwe Stella, P/H