30 Nigerian youths selected from 5 Northern states who were trained on modern agricultural methods by Office Chérifien des Phosphates, (OCP Africa) in partnership with the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) Bauchi under a pilot phase of Empowering African Youths (EMAY) project in Nigeria are to receive the sum of N27m as a monthly stipend of N30,000 each for 3 months.
The amount according to the OCP which is the main sponsor of the program is to enable the trained youths to start their businesses without difficulty and create a very strong customer base.
Speaking to journalists after the closing of the training on Sunday at the Bauchi State Agriculture Development Programme (BSADP), a Senior Agronomist with OCP Nigeria, Dr Donald Madukwe, said that the 20 African Young Leaders were trained on good agricultural practices, soil sampling and testing techniques for Empowering African Youth (EMAY) and Agripromoters Project.
Donald Madukwe further said that in addition to the three months stipends, the beneficiaries were also given a tricycles each, digital tablets for farmer data collection, digital soil laboratory test kits among others.
The OCP Agronomist also said that: “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 to collect farmers’ data, collect reference soil samples from farmers’ fields.”
He added that “We are equipping them with digital soil lab kits and they have other tools such as soil organic and sampling materials which they need to carry out 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 to 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,” he assured.
He further said that “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.”
Donald Madukwe said that the training was in order to encourage the youth to participate in agriculture and to encourage them to take charge and create value along the value chains of agriculture because it is the new shift that is needed.
He then explained that the training was aimed at equipping the youths 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, Donald Madukwe said that his company sees the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to make the youth to be self-sufficient.
He said that “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.
He added that “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 training 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 then 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 and Agricultural Sciences, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, (ATBU) Bauchi, Prof. Ahmed Sarki Fagam, said that 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 chose ATBU as trainers and also chose the Agripromoters and the African Youth Leaders, as agricultural extension specialists.
Ahmed Fagam said that “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 him, “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, however, 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.
Two of the participants, Bilal Abubakar from Sokoto state and Absalom Mercy from Nassarawa state who spoke to Journalists commended the training saying that they have learnt quite a lot new things in agricultural production which are ready to go on to the field to practice with the aim of promoting food production and security.
Absalom Mercy expressed confidence that as a lady in the agricultural industry, she is ready to go into the field and make a difference in agriculture to promote food production and security.