Several potential American investors as well as industry experts from other parts of the world including Britain are in Nigeria to seek partnership with local firms in the area of agriculture as government deepens its divestment policy towards the sector.
The companies were attracted by the US government endorsement of a $350 million Investment drive by “Youths Off The Street Initiative” (YOTSI), which is aimed at attracting Nigerian youths to build career in the agriculture sector.
President of the YOTSI, comrade Kennedy Iyere speaking at the opening of a two day “Nigerian Agri-Food Investment Forum 2017” in Lagos where he unveiled the $350 million Investment initiative said, the program is expected to generate about 1 million jobs in the next three years.
Iyere said, the money will be sourced offshore and invested in existing agrobusinesses and in youth wanting to venture into agriculture.
He was concerned about growing insecurity in the country and observed that indulgence of young persons in crime is as a result of growing unemployment.
“Taking Youths Off The Street” initiative which he leads, according to him would mobilize resources to fully engage the youths across the country to contribute to economic growth and in turn create economic opportunities for them..
“Crime is a product of idleness and we intend to curb this by bringing the unemployed youths together and offer them opportunities that abound particularly in the agriculture sector. We intend to generate $350 million in the next three years and with the significant support from international communities which is evident from the personalities in this forum, we shall accomplish this lofty goals and beginning from now all the pockets of agitations in parts of the country will begin to ease”, he assured.
In his remarks John Bray the US Consular General in Nigeria, his country is bringing private sector solutions to grow Nigeria’s agriculture business.
Bray, represented by Brent Omdahl, commercial counselor to US Mission in Nigeria, said US is deeply engaging and galvanizing partnerships and that presently some companies from the US are involved in providing technology models to support small scale farmers to improve their yield.
He said for instance, that an American firm, American West Africa Agro is dealing with challenges faced by farmers in the area of irrigation and trying to identify opportunities in the value chain.
Chairman of the occasion, His Highness Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, the Etsu Nupe, commended the YOTSI initiative and endorsement of the objectives by the US, and assured that traditional institutions would provide the needed support to see To the realization of the project.
Abubakar informed the gathering that government has demonstrated genuine desire to promote agriculture business through its diversification policy.
“We have had various interventions in the past like Operation Feed The Nation, Green Revolution but I see commitment by President Muhammadu Buhari administration to move away from rhetorics because today we are witnessing a significant turn around in the agriculture sector.. We are also seeing deliberate interventions by the Central Bank of Nigeria, supporting farmers and the private sector is keying into several programs initiated by government.
It is therefore a commendable move to draw Youths into this and adequately engage them in meaningful economic activities as this will in the long run produce results by curbing crimes and provide food security for the growing population” the royal father declared.