By Onome Prosper
Delta State Chief Jobs Creation Officer, Prof. Eric Eboh has said Delta State will soon join the leagues of rice producing states in the country as 21 youths under the YAGEP scheme currently undergoing training in the 42 hectares of rice farm in Deghele, Sapele Local Government Area of the state is set to produce the first batch of SMART rice.
Conducting newsmen round the rice farm, Prof. Eboh said the essence of the tour was to show the extent the Okowa’s administration is succeeding in using the jobs creation scheme to empower Deltans, noting that the programme has ran for three cycles and now gearing for the forth cycle.
He noted that since inception, the Okowa’s administration has been implementing job creation for the youths through the Youths Agriculture Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP), under SMART agenda, adding that YAGEP is an integral element of twin strategy to solve youth unemployment and transform agricultural value chain in the state.
According to Eboh, the approach is to train youths in agricultural skills, personal effectiveness and life skills, entrepreneurship and business management skills, establish and mentor them in farm enterprise clusters, stressing that the clusters are vital in sustaining youths interest in agriculture, demonstrating improved agricultural technologies and practices, promoting enterprise ability and ensuring high levels of agricultural productivity and sustainability.
He said so far, a total of 782 unemployed youths have been trained in various agricultural skills (poultry, piggery, fishery and crop production), established in a total of 25 farm enterprise clusters, as owners and managers.
“The clusters are having demonstration effects on the economy of the state. The youths are being trained in the whole process of rice processing. As you can see with the trashing and weeno machines in place and the dedication of the youths, we will have enough rice in the state. In Deghele we have 42 hectares of rice farm, 52 hectares, the state will be self sufficience in rice production.”
Continuing; “ Harvesting of rice as you can see is ongoing. We will go through the process of milling, packaging and selling it as YAGEP rice. The Deghele rice farm is a vast land lying fallow before now.”
One of the YAGEP training, Mr. Edoja Oke explained to news men that he has learnt alot the scheme and expressed gratitude to the state government for the opportunity given to him to quit unemployment.
He said; “We are 21 participants in this clusters working here. As you can see this species is called Faro 44, which takes approximately 120 days from planting and to maturity. Right now we are using the thrashing machine to thrash the rice and after the rice will be transferred to winnowing machine so as to separate the chaff from the rice.”
Another beneficiary, Mr. Victor Ukereti, a graduate of Agriculture from the College of Education, Warri, who said he began his training since January 2018, thanked the state governor and the monarch of Okpe Kingdom for giving him the opportunity to learn a skill.
“I am currently undergoing my training here in Deghele, my home town. Rice farming is very interesting and i believe it is going to be lucrative and profitable. One thing i noticed here is that the land is fertile, and with the needed support we will do better, though this is our first harvest and we will do much better with the needed support in subsequent harvest.” Ukereti recounted.
Prof. Eboh also took the newsmen round the Ugbokodo-Okpe, in Okpe LGA fish farm clusters where the success of the YAGEP scheme is being manifested.
He noted that YAGEPreneurs, comprising 77 youths from YAGEP 2018 Cycle who had completed theirtraining and internship, were established with fish ponds at Ugbokodo-Okpe Fish Cluster, pointing out that the fish Cluster is the largest and one of the five (5) fish clusters in the state, adding that other sites are in Egbokodo-Itsekiri, Mbiri, Anwai and Alao-Ossissa
“As you know this is in fulfilment of Governor Okowa’s promise to create wealth through the provision of jobs for all Deltans.
The Chief Job Creation Officer, Prof Eric Eboh, said the State Government is committed to promoting science based, knowledge driven and profit oriented agriculture, enjoining them to be the drivers of his vision of modern agriculture.
He advised them to be patient as their monthly stipend is being processed and will be paid soon.
He charged them to continue to work hard to become successful entrepreneurs and business managers in order to exceed the success stories recorded in the past, saying; “Your success is our success and our success is measured by your success.”
He added that the State Government is collaborating with other agencies involved in tackling youth unemployment such as Chevron sponsored PIND Foundation in terms of provision of technical support and mentoring to the YAGEPreneurs
Some of the beneficiaries who spoke expressed their gratitude to the State Government for the foresight in initiating such a meaningful project to provide them with a dependable means of livelihood.
Majemite Ochuko, noted that some of the challenges they experienced from time to time is that of oil spill in their ponds even as he commended the state government for their assistance. He pleaded for prompt payment of their monthly stipends to enable them upgrade.