Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The management of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has pleaded with the 36 state governors to make land available to corps members to embark on Agro-business as part of the efforts towards achieving food security in Nigeria.
Director-General of the scheme, Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim, made the appeal when the Executive Secretary of National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA), Prince Paul Ikonne, paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.
The DG also disclosed that the NYSC introduced Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development Programme into its Orientation Course content in 2012 as a way of empowering the youths with skills and instilling in them entrepreneurial spirit in order to gain financial freedom, adding that it has reduced the rate of unemployment among them.
He further added that the Scheme mobilises over 300,000 corps members annually, who, while in camp are exposed to the different skills offered by skill programme which make them self reliant, as well as employers of labour.
Gen Ibrahim further noted that beyond the impartation of skills to the corps members during Orientation programme, they are equally granted credit facilities to start their own businesses, revealing that many of the ex-corps members have become employers of labour, running thriving and verifiable businesses today, contributing immensely to the country’s GDP.
“I want to use this forum to appeal to the State Governors to allocate lands to the NYSC for agriculture, which remains germane to the nation’s economic diversification.
“We will cooperate with you because we want to leverage on Agro-business opportunities with relevant stakeholders so as to boost our revenue profile,” the DG assured the Executive Secretary.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary, had noted that the agency is seeking partnership with the NYSC towards the implementation of federal government’s agenda to ensure food security and diversify the national economy.
He described the NYSC as a veritable platform to harness the skills of corps members for national development, adding that NALDA has designed a programme, titled; “National Young Famers Scheme”, which would avail corps members of the opportunity to be actively engaged in agricultural training in a conducive environment with the necessary incentives.
He said the value-chain programme would expose corps members to modern agricultural practices from land preparation, planting, harvesting, marketing to Agro-Enginering.
“For Nigeria to achieve food sufficiency, NALDA must play its role and NYSC is the only organisation that has the pool of young men to achieve that purpose,” Ikonne said.