The National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) says it is ready to engage youths across the country in agricultural production to enhance food security and economic diversification.
The NALDA Executive Secretary, Mr Paul Ikonne, made this known in a statement issued by the Director of Communications, Mr Tope Ojeme after he paid a working visit to Gov. Aminu Masari of Katsina, in preparatory for take-off of the programme nationwide.
He said that registration and volunteering under NALDA by existing and prospective farmers were free.
Ikonne said 14 states had been selected as pilot states with plans to train 100 youths in three local government areas each on various forms of agricultural production.
He said the pilot states were selected from the six geo-political zones in collaboration with state governors and traditional leaders.
The executive secretary said that more states would be engaged in subsequent phases of the programme to maximise its impact on the economy.
“The essence of the programme is to engage as many Nigerian youths as possible.
“This, we will do by giving them enabling environment and empowering them with skills and tools to handle the business aspect of farming.
“This will enable farmers to get value for their produce and the global economic trend warrants that we call on everybody to go back to farm.
“The Federal Government has assured Nigerians that farming will be fully mechanised to make it more attractive and more profitable, and that is what NALDA is driving at,” he said.
Ikonne said that NALDA in the project would engage institutions, corporate bodies, governments, and individuals in this project to lease their land that was not in use.
He said that this would ensure that the lands were put into use in a way that would contribute to economic productivity and youth empowerment.
Briefing newsmen after the visit, Masari, said the state government would provide land for NALDA to train and engage youths in agricultural production.
He said: “80 per cent of our people are farmers and we have projected that our engagement with NALDA will create more jobs for our people while also boosting the rural economy.’’
“I believe this approach is a major departure from what NALDA used to do.
“This is a more practical approach and it will impact directly on the rural and national economy.”
Earlier, the team was at the palace of the Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Abdulmumini Usman, where the Executive Secretary solicited the Emir’s support.
Ikonne urged the Emir to encourage rural dwellers to lease out idle land to NALDA to enhance agricultural production in rural areas.
The emir pledged support for the programme, while urging the Federal Government to put in more effort in the fight against armed banditry.
According to him, armed banditry has obstructed farming and commercial activities in some local government areas in the central and southern parts of the state.
Usman also appealed to agencies with stake in agriculture and forestry to commit more resources in combating desertification threatening agricultural land in the Sahel part of Nigeria. (NAN)