By Ginika Okoye
Abuja – The Federal Government says it will soon commence training of youths in post-harvest activities and application of agro-chemicals under its Agricultural Transformation Support Programme Phase one (ATASP-1).
The National Coordinator of ATASP-1, Mr Haruna Akwashiki, made this known
in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday.
ATASP-1 is a programme developed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to improve food and nutrition security.
It also seeks to generate employment and wealth creation along the rice, cassava and sorghum value chains to enhance the nation’s food security.
The national coordinator said wrong chemical application on crops had caused rejection of the nation’s beans at international markets, hence the need for the training.
He said the training was geared toward building capacity of youths to reduce post-harvest losses and encourage adequate agronomic practices in the rice, cassava and sorghum value chains.
Akwashiki added that youths to benefit from the training would be drawn from Anambra, Enugu, Kano, Kebbi, Jigawa, Niger and Sokoto states, which were the participating states in the programme.
He noted that “this programme is to contribute to the agricultural development effort of the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We trained some youths on improved seeds production and they are currently in the field.
“We are planning another training for youths on post-harvest activities and application of agro-chemical.”
He explained that the five-year programme which would end in 2019 had three components of infrastructure development, commodity value chain development and programme management.
He said that 1,300 kilometres of irrigation water canals would be constructed, of which, 280 kilometres would be in Kebbi, Sokoto; 175km, Niger; 220km, Kano; 230km, Enugu; 125km, Anambra; 75km and Jigawa; 195km, under the infrastructure development component of the programme.
Others are 1,330km of feeder roads in the seven states, 63 potable water supply and sanitation schemes, among others.
He said that the focus of the irrigation project was to reduce rice importation, boost cassava and sorghum production, as well as encourage exportation of the produce.
The national coordinator noted that building of primary schools, construction of rural markets, boreholes and health centres in the seven participating states under the programme would be completed by the end of May.
The programme is being co-funded by Federal Government and the AfDB, with government contributing 23 million dollars and the bank contributing 152 million dollars.