The Federal Government will launch the Staple Crops Processing Zones with housing estates in 2014 as part of the strategies to attract Nigerian youths into agriculture.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, who made this known at an interactive session with editors in Abuja, said the zones were currently being developed.
Adesina said that 12 of such zones would be established, and that the master plan of seven of them had already been completed.
He admitted that the provision of social infrastructure in rural areas was critical to reversing the migration of youths to urban areas.
To this end, he said, low cost houses, water and light, among others, would also be provided in the areas where the zones would be located
“As part of the work, we are going to have some housing estates built around where we called Staple Crops Processing Zones (SCPZ).
“These zones are currently being developed; the master plan has just been completed.
“Seven out of 12 of them have good infrastructure. They can live in those areas so that they can have some low cost houses around these zones.
“It took us eight months to develop that strategy.
“I got the FAO and many experts in Nigeria to come together, in particular the youth themselves. We are actually going to implement that early next year.’’
He also recalled that President Goodluck Jonathan, i9n 2013 launched the “Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme’’ designed to create a new generation of young commercial entrepreneurial farmers.
He described them as “Black Belt Farmers of Nigeria in the future’’, who would be graduates and would compete with their counterparts in India and Brazil, among other countries.
According to him, 750,000 of such farmers will be trained over a five-year period at the rate of 20,000 per state.
“They will be provided with technical skill, managerial skill, finance and working with the state governments, so that we can change the labour composition of the sector to get a new generation of these young commercial farmers.’’
The minister further said that a N3.6 billion programme was also launched this year to create about 100 agricultural tractor hiring centres across the country with 1,120 tractors with mechanised harvesters.
The centres, he said, were being run by the private sector, and underscored the importance of the centres in reducing the drudgery associated with agriculture in Nigeria.
“I want to make more millionaires and billionaires out of the young people because that is where the money really is.
“Anything you see from adding value to our rice, to our cassava, starch, ethanol, sweeteners is a growth aspect so that people can make money,’’ Adesina said.