By Ginika Okoye
Abuja – The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has appealed to the Federal Government to include youths in its National Agriculture Investment Plan for Food and Nutrition Security (NAIP-FNS).
Mr Alain Sy Traore, the Director of Agriculture and Rural Development, ECOWAS Commission, Abuja, made the appeal at the 2nd African and National Youth Agriculture Festival on Agribusiness in Abuja on Friday.
The festival was organised by the Fresh and Young Brains Development Initiative, a youth non-governmental organisation, under its Youth Farm (YFarm) Project.
Traore, represented by Mr Ernest Aubee, the Head of Agriculture in the commission, said that food security would only be achieved in the country and the region through positive engagement of youths in agriculture.
He appealed to all stakeholders to create an enabling environment for youths in agriculture.
‘‘I salute Nigeria for its agriculture policies. I hope the youth will be involved in the policy. If Nigeria succeeds in agriculture, the African continent will succeed.
‘‘ECOWAS realises the critical role that youths play in agriculture value chain of our member states.
‘‘Active involvement of youths in agricultural development is at the heart of the ECOWAS Agriculture Policy (ECOWAP) and the Regional Agriculture Investment Plan for Food and Nutrition Security (RAIP-FNS) 2025,’’ he said.
The Chief Executive Officer of the initiative, Miss Nkiruka Nnaemego, said the YFarm project was aimed at establishing and training no fewer than 10,000 youth-led climate smart farmers and agribusiness across Africa by 2020.
Nnaemego said that the theme of the festival entitled: ‘‘Youth at the Centre of Agribusiness Revolution in Africa,’’ was apt.
She said that it offered policy options and recommended actions for harnessing youth potential in the agriculture sector across Africa.
Mrs Karima Babangida, the Director, Extension Services, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, assured youths that the Federal Government would continue to support youths to embrace agriculture.
Babangida, represented by Hajia Sugra Mahmood, urged youths to step up interest in agriculture adding that the venture was now regarded as a business.
Some of the youth who spoke at the festival called for government support to ensure access to land and credit facilities cultivate hectares of land.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Fresh & Young Brains Development Initiative is a non-governmental organisation aimed at stimulating positive change, promote social responsibility, environmental sustainability and a spirit of volunteerism in the society. (NAN)