TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
The National Directorate of Employment (NDE) has engaged 100 unemployed persons in Rivers State in a sustainable agricultural scheme in a post-COVID-19 pandemic.
Director-General of NDE, Nasiru Mohammed,who spoke at the orientation ceremony and documentation of participants in Port Harcourt, yesterday said the agency decided to encourage Nigerians to go into agriculture to equip them against food insecurity caused by the ravaging Coronavirus.
Mohammed disclosed that the programme, which is a nationwide scheme, was intended to eliminate poverty and make food supply sustainable, as well as curb unemployment in Rivers State and the entire country.
The Director-General, who was represented by a personnel of the commission, Edem Pascal, urged the participants to utilise the opportunity provided by Federal Government through the NDE, and equip themselves for the future.
According to the Director-General, failure to invest in agriculture will have devastating effect on the nation’s economy.
“That is why this programme is organised to compensate Nigerians, especially people in the rural areas, to enhance agriculture in every part of the country”, he stated.
Earlier in his address, the Head, Rural Employment Promotion Department (REPD), NDE, Rivers State,
Dr. Alfred Udoh, said the 2020 session of Sustainable Agricultural Development Training Scheme (SADTS) was timely, following the COVID-19 effects on global economy.
Udoh noted that a recent report by The United Nations Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Reliefs, said about 9 million people die of hunger annually.
He said: “Nine million people dying of hunger every year is not funny. That is more than the death tool as a result of AIDS, Malaria and tuberculosis put together. It is a staggering figure that is very threatening.
“The present administration is doing a lot to give another set of re-orientation to youths especially those that are unemployed for them to take interest in agriculture”, Udoh stated.
He advised: “Something has to be done, and done very fast because of the effect of COVID-19 on food scarcity. Funds should be released for agricultural research.
“There should also be an increment in the investment in the new agricultural technology. There should be integration of local and regional initiatives aimed at enhancing food security in order to leverage emerging
technologies to make our food system most sustainable, inclusive and efficient”, he advised.