The Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) has given 78 million dollars as training grant to 150 farmers in Bauchi State and the FCT to boost food security in Nigeria.
The beneficiaries are farmers of the Community Allied Farmers Association of Nigeria (COMAFAS).
Mrs Massandje Toure-Litse, ECOWAS Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture made this known at the opening of a poultry training workshop for beneficiaries in Orozo, Abuja on Tuesday.
Toure-Litse said the grant would increase young peoples’ capacity to engage in agriculture value chains and food production.
She added that it would go toward the training of 150 youth in poultry and fisheries, adding that the two sub-sectors were the main driving force behind the sub-region’s economy and development.
ECOWAS has designed quality training modules and arranged for the training of 3,032 young people (30 per cent women and 70 per cent men), she said.
Toure-Litse said agricultural productivity and competitiveness in West Africa had the tendency to impact positively on the sub-region’s food security, economic development, and livelihoods.
According to her, the ECOWAS Agriculture Policy remains the guiding framework for the 15 members of the bloc as it prioritises agricultural productivity and competitiveness.
The programme seeks to enhance the capacity of youth and women farmers and promote their access to resources and markets and their involvement in agribusiness, she said.
She added that there was the need for urgent intervention in gender participation in agriculture and youth employment, food chains, crops, forestry, livestock and fisheries.
“Products from crops, livestock and fisheries are the second largest when we talk about intra-community trade and interestingly, among these, livestock is the largest item.
“It is anticipated that by 2030, at least 30 per cent of young people in the sub-region will be employed in the agriculture sector.
“This will amount to a 75 per cent reduction in youth under-employment in rural areas,’’ she said.
In his remarks, Dr Austine Maduka, Founder/President of COMAFAS, said in spite of the expansion of poultry industry in Nigeria, it could only cater to 30 per cent of the needs of Nigerians.
Maduka said the training aimed to educate young farmers on how best to start and manage production.
He said the partnership with ECOWAS would strengthen the move to ensure availability of meat, other foods and impact relevant skills for sustainable strategies to reduce poverty.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports 75 out of the 150 beneficiaries would be trained on poultry farming in the FCT, while the remaining 75 would be trained on fish farming in Bauchi.
The FCT beneficiaries were given 50 birds each, bags of poultry feeds and drugs as start-up capital. (NAN)