From Obinna Odogwu, Awka
A total of 400 women and youths selected from Awka North and South Federal Constituency have undergone intensive training iwn agriculture, food security, financial management and business development in Anambra State.
The training workshop, which lasted for two days, was held in Awka and was organised by New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD) in collaboration with Chinedu Onwuaso who represents the federal constituency in the House of Representatives.
Onwuaso, in a brief chat with the reporter, said the training was triggered by his desire to reduce unemployment and empower women and youths to be self-reliant through agriculture.
“This will help to tackle unemployment in our society. We have farmers here and all kinds of artisans are here too. This training will build that capacity for productivity and that would impact positively on the economy thereby making their lives better,” he said.
He noted that although 400 persons were being trained at that moment, he hoped about 2,000 persons would be trained. He said some funds would also be made available to the trainees to enable them venture into agriculture afterwards.
“This is the first batch and we want to do four more batches. So, the next 400 will come around February or March of next year.
“If not for the coronavirus pandemic, we would have done about two batches for this year. But we are still moving on. These 2,000 persons will be given some loan to start their businesses after the trainings”, he said, adding that the money would come in two phases.
He said that the first phase would come from him, which would be non-refundable while the second phase would come from a supporting agency. The second would be a loan that must be refunded in due time.
Onwuaso said: “As they start up with the one we are giving them, they will now build experience to assess the main part of the loan which is what the CBN is offering from NIRSAL.
“We want to build them up; build their capacity first so that when they now access the main loan, it will help them.
“It is a thing that has not been happening before in Awka North and South Federal Constituency. It is part of our promise to our people; to empower them; to create capacity so that everybody will not be dependent on the government.”
Speaking earlier, Onwuaso appealed to the trainees to make the best of the opportunity even as he reminded them that the second phase of the fund would have to be refunded.
“When this fund comes, use it wisely and judiciously on the business you are trained on. Don’t spend it recklessly.
“Remember that along the line, you’ll pay back gradually. The good thing is that the repayment terms are flexible. So, you should start now to make plans on how to make the best of this training and the fund that would follow it. You will also be issued certificates after this training,” he said.
One of the trainees, Arinze Chinwuko, said he felt fulfilled participating in the training workshop.
“Why I found this training worthwhile is because I am a member of the Young Farmers Association of Nigeria, Anambra State chapter, and it is high time the youths went into farming.
“If you check, you will see that the youths have abandoned agriculture in search of white-collar jobs. And the economy is moving gradually to agric ICT. So, it is a wonderful thing that I am a participant at this training.
“This will help me to have a better understanding of financial management; how to register my agric company and access loans. So, this training will help me a lot.
“This is a rare opportunity that comes once in a while and I expect the youths to make the best out of it instead of whiling away our time, chasing things that don’t matter. It is a very commendable project attracted by Hon. Chinedu Onwuaso,” he said.