“Reviving cocoa plantations to make Ekiti State, Nigeria a world leader in cocoa production again; agriculture is to contribute 50% of internally generated revenue; 20,000 Ekiti youths trained and employed in mechanized agriculture by 2014.”The present administration has as one of the 8-point agenda, the development of the State’s potential in agriculture. With increased regional integration, this administration sees agriculture as a sector with major revenue generating potential which sadly has not been tapped over the years.
Agriculture also has the potential to significantly impact on the state of unemployment among young people in Ekiti State by providing avenues for gainful employment.
In demonstration of this administration’s commitment to the development of the sector, the following programs/policies have been initiated:
1.Agricultural/Community Skill Training Centre. This involves the establishment of skill acquisition centres across the 16 Local Government Areas of the State to train youths in various aspects of agriculture such as Sericulture, Poultry, Fishery and arable crops.
2.Cluster farming: Under this farming technique, 100 hectares of land are provided by each Local Government Areas to empower 20 farmers in each Local Government.
3.Irrigation developments: The development of irrigation sites at Ero, Egbe and Itapaji dams is receiving immediate attention. Accordingly, 500 farmers would be assisted under this irrigation farming.
4.Establishment and re-generation of cocoa plantations in the cocoa producing areas of the State, while oil palm and cashew plantations are proposed for establishment throughout the State.
5.Forest regeneration. Efforts are on top gear for the establishment of 500 hectares of teak and Gmelina at our existing forests reserve while new plantations would be established.
6.Farm settlement: The Government is set for the establishment of six farm settlements across the State, Two farm settlements in each of the 3 senatorial districts, to accommodate at least 50 farmers in each centre, for agricultural production purposes.
7.Agro chemicals: The State Government has approved the procurement of agrochemicals to be made available to farmers at subsidized rates by the government for improved cocoa production.
8.Commercial Agric Credit Scheme (CACS) Loan will be disbursed to farmers through a commercial Bank to boost food production in Ekiti State. Under the scheme, about 500 farmers is expected to benefit.
In order to create avenue for commercial farming to generate income and provide employment opportunities for the Youth, the State Government is making use of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) to achieve this.
It is imperative that most world governments, especially in Africa set right policies that support the growth of Agriculture and Agribusiness following the model outlined above(if they have not already done so) as it will reduce youth unemployment and increase youth involvement in Agriculture!