The New Enugu Project (TNEP), a Non-Governmental Organisation, has urged youths to return and maximise benefits of modern agriculture to empower themselves and crate employment.
The Convener of TNEP, Mr Ekene Uzodinma, made the call on Friday in Nsude community near Enugu while delivering a lecture on the theme: “Youths, Self-Sustainable and Empowerment through Agriculture’’.
The lecture was delivered at Udi Youths Security Summit organised by Udi Sons and Daughters Forum.
Uzodinma, who established a link between insecurity, unemployment, and poverty, noted that the generation of the founding fathers of the country used agriculture to build and grow the country to the envy of western nations.
“Most of the popular farm plantations and exploit in agriculture was done by them but today rather to build on what is existing most youths are busy cutting down economic trees and other historical monumental trees around.
“We should not lose focus that our fore-fathers made fame and wealth through agriculture and selling valuable cash crops to the Europeans.
The same land is here lying fallow before us and climatic condition remained same,’’ he said.
The TNEP boss urged youths in Enugu State to take advantage of an ongoing agriculture/farming empowerment programme tagged: “One Youth, One Hectare’’ project, meant to empower and support would-be youth rice farmers.
“The project is free-of-charge for interested youths, as the land will be prepared ahead, initial training given, extension service and consultancy advice service provided free-of-charge to check any challenge.
“And there is already off-taker that will buy the produce especially rice from them; thus, assuring a return on investment for the youths that participate in the project,’’ he noted.
He challenged traditional rulers in Udi council area to partner TNEP by providing arable farmlands, meant to expand the project and empower more youths not only in rice production but other high-yield crops according to soil peculiarities of the area.
Earlier, Prof. Anslem Onyimoni, Professor of Animal Science in University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), urged youths to invest in cash-crop plantations such as cashew nut and palm oil since they have ever-growing local and international market.
Onyimoni, who spoke on “Youths and Security in Udi land’’, urged youths to ensure that they are not idle since idleness breeds lack and poverty, which lead many into crime and criminality.
“You can take advantage of skill acquisition programmes by the Federal and state government agencies as well as foreign donors to empower yourself and stopping demanding money from your aged parents,’’ he advised.
Igwe Paul Ogbodo, Chairman of Udi Local Government Area Traditional Rulers’ Council, noted that the traditional rulers would meet on the need to provide farmlands to support the agricultural initiatives discussed as a way to check unemployment and insecurity.
“The discussion will not end here; traditional rulers will meet and provide hectares of farmland to support organizations that want to assist youths especially in planting Bambara nut (Okpa nut), that grow well in this area,’’ Ogbodo said.
The Chairman of the Forum, Mr Emmanuel Onwuegbu, said that the summit was organised to galvanise strength and number of youths in Udi to pursue goal of eliminating poverty and ensuring that they contribute to societal growth.
Highlights of the occasion were giving award of excellence to some illustrious sons and daughters of Udi council area and the cutting of the five years anniversary cake of the forum.