Segun Babatunde in Bauchi
Office Chérifien des Phosphates, (OCP Africa) has partnered with the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi to train 30 youths selected from five northern states to boost Agriculture under its pilot phase of Empowering African Youths (EMAY) project in Nigeria.
The Company is giving the trainees N30,000 monthly stipends for three months which amounts to N27 million to enable them start their business without difficulty.
The Senior Agronomist, OCP Nigeria, Dr. Donald Madukwe, stated this in an interview with journalists on Sunday at the end of a one week long training which held at the Bauchi State Agriculture Development Programme.
He said that the African young leaders were trained on good agricultural practices, soil sampling and testing techniques for Empowering African Youth (EMAY) and Agripromoters Project.
Madukwe said that in addition to the three months stipends, the beneficiaries were also given them tricycles, digital tablets for farmer data collection, digital soil laboratory test kits among others.
He said: “OCP is empowering them with the equipment they need to work. Today, we are giving them Android Tablets because this is also a digital drop we have created for them, the tablets will enable them collect farmers’ data, collect reference soil samples from farmers’ fields.
“We’re equiping them with digital soil lab kits and they have other tools such as soil orga and sampling materials they need to carryout this work.
“OCP is also going to support them for the first three months of their activities with stipends before they can be able to start generating revenue from this venture.
“They also have tricycles, each of these young leaders will have these items and the tricycles are to enable them convey their laboratory to various locations as well as convey farm inputs to the various locations which they can make margins for.
“OCP is also prepared to release inputs to them and they can deliver additional margins.
“They will get nothing less than N30,000 each monthly stipends for three months that will enable them at least fuel the tricycles around and maybe for other emergencies. They are not being employed, it is just a stipend to support them.”
Madukwe said that the training was in order to encourage the youth to participate in agriculture and to encourage them take charge and create value along the value chains of agriculture because it is the new shift that is needed.
He said that the training is aimed at equipping the youth to be entrepreneurs, to fend for themselves, create value and earn a living.
Speaking on concerns about food insecurity in the country occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the insecurity which has prevented many from going to the farms, Madukwe that his company sees the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to make the youth to be self-sufficient.
“At OCP, we believe that beyond Coronavirus, there’ll be life, we believe that this too will pass and we will continue to live, so there’s need to create value. For us, Coronavirus is an opportunity for us to create more value, it’s an opportunity for us to empower more youths so that beyond Coronavirus, there’ll be self sufficiency.
“We are trying to use the youths to encourage the farmers not to relent but to keep on because we know with this training these youth have gotten this one week, they’re going to support the farmers and they’re going to improve their productivity and yield beyond self-sufficiency.
“One of the trainings they received is good agricultural practices which they are going to hand down to the farmers and more important of all is the soil testing skills and the beginning of good agricultural practices and good yield is soil testing,” he stated.
He charged the beneficiaries to be diligent, focused and make the most out of this rare opportunity and also to be good representatives of the states they come from.
Also, speaking, the Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Prof. Ahmed Fagam, the university signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a university in Morocco called UNCP and another collaboration with OCP Africa which is also a component of that university.
He said that the fertilizer company, based on that MoU organized the one week long training and chosed ATBU as trainers and also chose the Agripromoters and the African Youth Leaders, they are agricultural extension specialists.
“ATBU is only providing the technical know-how through our staff for the training,” he said, adding that the trainees will be used as agricultural extension specialists, which are lacking in the country.
According to Fagam, “they will move from one point to another, from one farm to another, from one village to another in their states. They’ll impact by promoting and disseminating agricultural practices including fertilizer applications and agricultural businesses.”
He expressed optimism that because the participants have gotten the full training, they will use it to better their lives and boost agriculture and particularly good production in the country. END