Paul Osuyi, Asaba
In order to boost the state’s economy and create employment, Delta State government has established 25 farm enterprise clusters where 782 hitherto unemployment youths were trained and are now managing the clusters as owners.
In one of the enterprises, Deghele Rice Farm Cluster in Sapele Local Government Area of the state, 21 farmers under the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP) vowed to meet the rice needs of Nigerians particularly during the Yuletide.
The Deghele Rice Farm has 42 hectares that have been fully cultivated, and the owners and managers of the enterprise were already at the stage of threshing when Daily Sun correspondent visited during a media tour.
A female farmer, Beauty Arigidi, described the experience from the training to harrowing, planting, harvesting and threshing as wonderful, and thanked the government for encouraging agriculture in the state.
For his part, Mr. Aguamah Gbayafader, said about 75 tonnes of rice would be produced from the cluster this year as part of coordinated effort to meet the huge demand for rice by consumers across the state.
He listed some of the challenges of the Deghele rice farmers to include the prevalence of fake agro chemicals in the market, pests and lack of access to farm machineries.
“There is no enterprise without challenges but we came, we saw and we conquered. Our challenges include fake agro chemicals; the issue of bird and grasscutter; what we are doing here ought to be mechanised, purely commercial but unfortunately we don’t have access to farm machines,” he said.
Giving an overview of the farm clusters, the state Chief Job Creation Officer, Prof. Eric Eboh, said the present administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is committed to using the agricultural value chain to create jobs and drive the state economy.
Eboh said the beneficiaries including graduates, young school leavers and persons living with disabilities were trained in various agricultural skills of poultry, piggery, fishery and crop production, and thereafter established the clusters for them to own and manage.
He said the cluster system will “sustain youth interest in agriculture; demonstrate improved agricultural technologies and practices; promote enterprise viability; and ensure high levels of agricultural productivity and sustainability.”