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The Ekiti State Government has urged young people in the state with a passion for agribusiness to take advantage of the various government programs in agriculture to empower themselves to become self-reliant entrepreneurs and employers of labour.

The State Commissioner for Information, Rt. Hon Taiwo Olatunbosun while featuring on a current affairs program on a radio in Ado-Ekiti, explained that Government has developed a strategic approach towards harnessing the potential of young talents to drive agricultural innovation and sustainable development in the years to come.

The Commissioner said that the focus is to encourage the younger generation by nurturing youth involvement in agriculture.

Rt. Hon. Olatunbosun stressed that “agriculture opens doors for several job creation ranging from food production that require services of input suppliers, processors, marketers, and management staff. This ensures the reduction in poverty and hunger and finally, reduces crime rate among youths”.

The Commissioner highlighted some of the initiatives of the State Government in agriculture to include subsidy on the State tractorization scheme to facilitate ploughing and harrowing which is expected to promote commercial farming in the State as against the predominant old model subsistent farming.

According to Rt. Hon. Olatunbosun, the State Government continuously facilitates financial assistance in form of grants and loans to kick-start and sustain agribusiness as well as provide improved seeds and seedlings to farmers at subsidized rates.

He added that “Government has renovated the erstwhile moribund Erifun farm settlement that was built by the colonial regime over 60years ago and is now effectively housing the Livestock Development Centre’s (LDC) and the Youth Engagement in Urban Farming with poultry and agribusiness respectively as well as accommodation for participants.

“The State is also enjoying the World Bank assisted Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support (L-PRES) having paid a counterpart fund of N20million.

“Government has continuously and proactively fumigated poultry market against Avian Influenza in response to a reported outbreak in a northern State. Cassava cutting, maize seed and other farm inputs were distributed to 6,202 beneficiaries, 10,000 bags of maize distributed to livestock farmers to cushion the effect of rising cost of feed while 1,566 farmers were supported with both production assets and small scale processing equipment and Government also partnered with R-CONNECT, an agribusiness NGO on new farming techniques in 5 pilot schools”.

Advising Ekiti youths to equip themselves with 21st-century skills that would make them well-positioned to contribute to the nation’s development, the Commissioner said that the innovation summit held in the State last year tagged “Ekiti Innovation Summit 2023” was a “demonstration of the commitment of the State Government to harness the state’s intellectual prowess and elevate it into an innovation powerhouse, thus steering Ekiti towards prosperity.”

Rt. Hon. Olatunbosun also noted that the Ekiti Knowledge Zone (EKZ) project in the State and the recent approval of $80million loan from the African Development Bank (AFDB) for the project would contribute remarkably to Government’s effort to harness the power of technology and innovation for sustainable economic growth and the improvement of the livelihoods of people in the State.

The Commissioner expressed confidence that these efforts would drive innovation, create jobs, and ultimately ensure the prosperity of residents of the State particularly the youths.

He however stressed that only youths that are interested in partaking in the ongoing development would be carried along, adding that it would be a waste of time and resources to invest in laidback people that needed to be coerced.

Rt. Hon. Olatunbosun said that “we are delighted that this loan will empower us to build a thriving digital ecosystem, foster research and development, and support the growth of technology startups in our state. These efforts will drive innovation, create jobs, and ultimately ensure the prosperity of our people.

“I must similarly underscore the necessity for collective commitment, recognizing that such a transformative journey demands the active involvement of all citizens, resilient businesses, and far-sighted policymakers.

“The future of State lies in the hands of our youth, therefore by equipping them, training them and supporting them with the necessary tools and support; we can foster innovation and sustainable practices that will drive the growth of our State.”

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