By G9ija

A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Abundance of Hope Initiative, on Saturday in Abuja, trained 20 youths on fish production, management, processing and marketing.

Mr Taiye Sasona, Executive Secretary of the organisation said that the training designed to commemorate the 2021 World Youth Skills Day, was critical in empowering Nigerian youths.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the United Nations General Assembly declared July 15 as World Youth Skills Day to celebrate the importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.

Sasona pointed out the importance of youth empowerment and mentorship in agriculture to promote food security in the country.

According to him, “youth should be trained on modern ways of agriculture and agro businesses in Nigeria and by so doing reduce unemployment in the country.

“As we celebrate this year’s World Youth Skills Day, I urge government at all levels to help young people in changing their perception so that they can view the agricultural sector as an exciting and innovative industry.

“Your participation in agriculture will not only mean more food on the table but will also reduce unemployment rate in Nigeria.”

He noted that Nigerians were  suffering from consequences of poor decision made by governments decades ago, negligence and inappropriate planning which has now led to the  importation of the smallest of house hold items into the country.

“According to World Health Organisation, we are living in an era where rapid urbanisation has led to a decline in rural population, so majority of the world population live in the city.

“This means seven out of 10 young people are moving from the rural area to the city centre leaving few behind to farm what we eat,’’ he said.

While urging the Federal Government to ensure that farmers have easy access to farm implements and organic fertilizer, Sasona expressed worry that most times criteria for getting farm inputs were not easy.

He also appealed to the Federal Government to ensure that farm inputs were affordable and grants as well as loans were provided to encourage more youths into agriculture.

Sasona, however, encouraged youths to embrace the opportunities that modern agricultural technologies offer to increase productivity.

“Modern agriculture gives more career opportunities in different technical areas that you can explore.

“Play a role in the value chain by helping to get easily perishable produce to the market quickly to reduce number of intermediaries, so farmers can retain a greater share of the selling price of their produce,’’ Sasona said.

One of the facilitators, Miss Josephine Etta, urged youths to change their mindset about  agriculture being a life of poverty and hardship.

According to her, to those that are doing something, you must go beyond hand-to-mouth farming.

“Learn the skills and become professional around the sector; you have all it takes to make agriculture great again.

“Many people lost their jobs during the Covid-19 lockdown, so there is need to have the skills essential to thrive in agriculture,’’ she said.

One of the beneficiaries, Mr Fadunmiye Elisha, said that he was impressed with the training by the NGO, saying that it has imparted a lot in him in the area of modern fish farming techniques.

Another participant, Miss Kpen Hembadoon, said “I should not be sitting here with my level of education only to be looking for government job as if I only went to school to work for the government.

“The skill acquired here today will add up to the one that existed before and with all that, I can make a living for myself and become an employer of labour,’’ she said.

Hembadoon emphasized the need for increased private sector involvement in empowering youths with skills to engage them in meaningful ventures and generate income for themselves.