By Stanley Nwanosike
Enugu – The New Enugu Project (TNEP), a non-governmental organisation, says it has acquired 100 hectares of arable farmland to kick-off the `One Youth, One Hectare’ project in Enugu state.
The Convener of the organisation, Mr Ekene Uzodinma, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu on Thursday.
Uzodinma, who owns 23 hectares of rice farm in the state, said that the 100 hectares would be distributed free-of-charge to youths interested in farming.
He said that the land would be given to the youths on the basis of one youth, one hectare of farmland for one farming season.
He said that the organisation would prepare the farmland for the prospective youth farmers before handing it over to them.
“This is a programme of TNEP meant to practically empower and up-lift youths out of poverty after a farming season.
“The youths that indicate interest will be given some weeks of training to prepare them and they will be followed up by known farmers, including myself.
“They will also be supported with agricultural extension services if need be through the Federal and State Ministries of Agriculture,” he said.
Uzodinma further said that the organisation would also act as off-takers for the farm produce, especially rice, at the end of the harvest.
He said that buying off the farm produce would help to ensure that the farmers did not sell their produce at giveaway prices.
He said that after the first year, the youth farmer could decide to increase his or her farmland to two or three hectares.
Uzodinma said that with the programme, over 400 hectares of farmland would have been cultivated with variety of cash and staple food crops within the next four years.
“The programme will definitely have great effect on the employment drive of the state since it will be coming with a lot of multiplier effect.
“It will lead to improved and abundant food for local consumption in the state and export.
“TNEP believes that the initiative will encourage innovation, hard work and productivity among the youths to better their lives,’’ he said. (NAN)