The IFAD-funded Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises -Niger Delta (LIFE-ND) has disbursed over N20 million to Ondo farmers on behalf of the Federal Government (FG) and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the co-sponsors of the project.
The money was distributed to the farmers trained under the LIFE-ND’s incubators/incubatees model programme, says the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Sunday Akintomide, in Akure, on Tuesday.
Akintomide said the 20 beneficiaries were among the first batch of 250 incubatees that had undergone an intensive and mandatory six months training, under established farmers, known as incubators.
He explained that the funds were meant to be used to finance various Agriculture projects such as cocoa, cassava, poultry and fisheries, advising the beneficiaries to project the programme to others so that they could also benefit from it.
”You are fortunate to partake in this noble programme being a unique and life changing experience.
“Agriculture cannot be neglected because food is compulsory for all, proclaim this noble initiative to the world that Ondo State is undertaking such a marvelous program at this time, ” he said.
The State IFAD Project Coordinator, Mr. Olawale Ademola, explained that the programme was meant to train male farmers aged between 18 and 35, alongside women whose age was pegged at 50, due to their vulnerability.
Ademola said that incubatees were selected by independent consultants, who carried out a thorough screening.
“The Incubatees have undergone an intensive training by established farmers, called incubators, and are expected to monitor and supervise the incubatees to enable them succeed.
“This working capital is a take-off loan for the incubatees to start on a good footing. We have four incubators from different communities each, with five incubatees to supervise.
“This programme is arranged in such a way that we in the Ondo office have no say in who is chosen.
”The independent consultants conducted oral interview, checked applicants’ credentials and visited their acclaimed homes. We are still recruiting as the target is 4250, out of which only 250 have been picked, “Ademola said.
He maintained that the door was still open for interested job seekers to apply, as it would go a long way to mitigate unemployment, most especially among the youth.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Chairman of the State Boundary Commission, Mr Robinson Ojebowale described agriculture as the best investment with the greatest yield.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the programme was designed for twelve years broken into two phases of six years each.
NAN also reported that each of the four incubators, collected cheques on behalf of their incubatees, to enable them start up their chosen agriculture business. (NAN)