The federal government has revealed plans to generate a total of 750,000 jobs through the proposed ‘Nagropreneur programme’ that would be launched by President Goodluck Jonathan next month.
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina who disclosed this in Asaba Thursday, at the ongoing Guild of Editors conference, said the Nagropreneur programme was in direct response to the aging population of farmers in the country, and targeted at attracting young commercial farmers to the agriculture sector.
Speaking on the topic, ‘Agriculture: The Value Chain Road Map,’ Adewumi stated that the programme will specifically focus on young graduates and school leavers.
“They will become the young elite commercial farmers who will make Nigeria competitive in the global agricultural market well into the future. The program will focus on young graduates and school leavers, establish farm estates where they can reside, and provide them access to land, financing and mechanization services,” he said.
Adewumi disclosed that his ministry has already launched N3.5 billion mechanization program that is setting up 80 tractor and mechanized service centers across the country, which will be operated by the private sector, to support the programme.
Speaking further, the minister said government would sustain present policies and institutional framework aimed at inhibiting importation of food to encourage more people to go into agriculture.
“Policies and institutional incentives must be sustained, and we must avoid policy reversals, which have scuttled many efforts in the past. Of particular concern is the issue of the Common External Tariff of the ECOWAS region.
“There have been criticisms on increased tariffs and outright bans of certain food items Nigeria can produce. Some are clamoring for the reduction in tariff and duty on the importation of crude palm oil, rice, sugar, fish etc.
“No nation has developed its agriculture without reasonable levels of tariff protection aimed at protecting local production and industries. Nigeria should protect its farmers from the effects of dumping of subsidized products smuggled daily into the country. America does it. European Union does it. Nigeria should do the same,” he maintained.
The minister noted that local production can never be encouraged when there is unbridled dumping of cheap low-quality products in Nigerian markets, arguing that such practice discourages local farmers and increases our rural poverty, while also increasing unemployment.