The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has commended the Federal Government for the successful implementation of the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP), designed to boost agricultural productivity.
Mr Ahmed Matane, Assistant FAO Country Representative, said on Tuesday in an interview in Abuja that the programme, inaugurated in 2013, had surpassed its initial target.
“YEAP was designed in 2013 to increase decent rural employment opportunities for Nigerian youth along area-based priority agricultural value chains.
“The programme has created more than the initiated 750,000 jobs for youth in the agricultural sector, over a five-year period, while a lot of youths have gained skills through the empowerment programme,’’ he said.
Matane explained that the overall goal of YEAP was to contribute to food security and nutrition, rural income generation and improved livelihood for youth in rural areas through agricultural value chains.
According to him, the programme also provided framework for supporting targeted state-level investments to complement and leverage ongoing programmes for youth employment in agriculture.
Matane said more than 750,000 young Nigerian agro-entrepreneurs have been trained in different value chains and some were engaged in commodity production.
The FAO official said that the success of the programme in Nigeria had attracted some West African countries and the UN Women Mission, seeking to adopt it in their countries.
Matane disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and FAO planned to scale up the programme to include more youths, women and vulnerable groups.
The official added that the Ministry has made provision for the programme in its 2018 budget.
The ministry, FAO and International Labour Organisation designed the five-year programme to address issues of youth unemployment, underemployment and poverty in Nigeria.
Before the commencement of implementation, a stakeholders meeting involving government and youths from the respective pilot states agreed and set up State Level Coordinating Committees for effective implementation of the YEAP. (NAN)