Canadian govt empowers 10,000 Nigerian youths with $15m in agriculture

The Canadian government has trained about 10,000 youths in Cross river state though a 15million Canadian dollars funding in the agribusiness value chain ranging from Fisheries, Cassava, Poultry among others.

The YouLead Project which was initiated 5 years ago, is based in Cross River State, Nigeria. It provides youth with valuable skills & technical training aimed to reduce youth unemployment by promoting entrepreneurship and sustainable economic development in the natural resource sectors, including agriculture, forestry, aquaculture and eco-tourism.

The project is implemented by Cuso International with support from the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada, GAC.

Speaking at the opening of the YoulLead Learning and Sharing Forum held in Abuja, Country Representative of CUSO international, Ebrima Sonko said about 10,000 youths have been trained so far and 3,500 have been able to be put to work.

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He disclosed that the choice to start the project in Cross River state was hinged on two specific factors: it’s unemployment rate which was 40% above the national level  as well   its abundant natural resources

According to him “we saw that communities were encroaching and meeting their livelihoods was affecting their environment so we thought a program that will look at youth employment within the natural resources will be a good way to address the problem.

“We know that young people don’t like agriculture but we know that young people are not lazy people, they want to do something. When we called for young people to apply to work with us, we have seen a very good response..so for me going people want to do something but they don’t know what exactly what they want to do, they don’t know how they want to do it, the opportunities that abound.

“There was a high level of unemployment above the national level, close to 40% and the communities were encroaching into the ecosystem and meeting their livelihoods was affecting the environment so we thought with a program that would provide employment within the natural resource sector would be a good way to address these issues”.

Sonko explained that what the project set out to do was to fist change the mindset of the Youth by first providing training in principles of entrepreneurship before providing technical training in areas they want.

Also speaking, GAC Senior Programme Officer Sophie Price said the YouLead Project, mentioned was coming at a time when the rate of unemployment in the state is affecting their economic well being.

She lamented that Nigeria arguably being the strongest economy in Africa has not translated into prosperity for its citizenry despite the economic growth rate of 7percent, the rate of unemployment has moved from 69million people in 2004 to 1122million people in 2010.

Price, however, expressed joy over the impact the project has had on families which hitherto were unable to have a decent livelihood adding that the positive outcome has inspired them to do more.

“We hope that lessons learnt from this project can be taken up by other organisations as there is a lot of interesting part of the work including private sector engagement and significant community dialogue to change attitudes,” she prayed.

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