Serving corps members in Kwara State have been trained on post-harvest handling and value addition of agricultural commodities towards addressing high youth unemployment rate in the country.
Speaking at the opening of a three-day workshop organized by the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), in Ilorin on Tuesday, executive director of the institute, Dr Mrs Patricia Pessu, said there are significant rewards for youth who tap into agriculture industry as an entrepreneur.
“The World Bank predicts that African agriculture and agribusiness will grow to be an 890 billion Euro industry by 2030. This represents significant rewards for young people who tap into the industry as entrepreneurs. This training, therefore, represents an opportunity for corps members to be a part of the sector,” she said.
Represented by the director, research operations of the institute, Dr Engineer Folorunso Olayemi, the NSPRI boss encouraged the youth to go into agribusiness because of employment opportunities abound in post-harvest production.
She said that efforts by various governments to engage youth in agriculture had yielded little because of uninspiring agricultural production activities.
She, however, said that post-harvest value addition appeals to the educated mind given the less rigorous operations, adding that post-harvest operations require high standards of hygienic and sanitary processes that educated minds can understand, implement and benefit from.
More than 42 corps members from the 16 local government areas of the state participated in the training, while the programme is expected to be replicated in all states of the federation.
Also speaking, the state agriculture commissioner, Mrs Adenike Osatimehin, said that main global challenges today is how to ensure food security for the world’s growing population.
The commissioner also said that food security is being threatened by post-harvest losses, adding that, if well curtailed, it will lead to an increased market value of the harvested produce through value chain addition.
Mrs Osotimehin said that the state government is determined to consolidate on the commercialisation of agriculture through the provision of adequate machinery and equipment to assist genuine farmers in advancing their level of productivity, profitability and competitiveness in smart innovative and eco-friendly agriculture.
She said that the government also planned to refocus the agriculture sector from being a mass social service sector to a profitable agribusiness aimed at providing technical expertise to support investment.