The Bayelsa State government is keen to boost agric practice and is training youths across political lines, all to create alternative income sources and boost economy outside oil and gas.
Bayelsa State Government and a private firm, CSS Integrated Farms Limited, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the training of young farmers.
Speaking during the signing ceremony on Thursday, Governor Douye Diri urged youth in the state to take advantage of his administration’s agricultural drive to develop themselves and the state.
In a statement by his Acting Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, Governor Diri said the aim of the partnership with the private is to realise the agricultural potential of the state.
The governor also urged the youth to shun all forms of social and political vices and put themselves forward to be trained in the agricultural sector in order to be self reliant.
Governor Diri disclosed that interested Bayelsans would not only be trained in different areas of agriculture, but would also be engaged by the state to put the knowledge acquired to work.
He charged the Ministry of Agriculture to involve the youth across party lines saying the development would open a new vista for the state and assured of his resolve to develop agriculture for its benefits for the state.
His words: “I have been waiting for this day. We have tagged our government Prosperity Administration. Bayelsa is rich in oil and gas and other natural resources. We also have a lot of land areas for agriculture. Our comparative advantage is in rice, plantain, fisheries and cassava. The MoU is to train our unemployed youths and then become employers of labour and create wealth in the land.
“For our teeming youths, being involved in drugs is no solution. It can never make you rich nor prosperous. But if you want to tap into the gospel of prosperity of our administration, this is the opportunity.
“Any politician arming you with AK-47 is your enemy. Any politician asking you to cordon off an area where election results are being collated is your enemy and that of Bayelsa State.”
Earlier, John Okpara, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CSS Integrated Limited stated that Bayelsa is one of the few states yet to access the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) agricultural loans and that the MoU would help the state access the funds.
Okpara noted that with the signing of the MoU, farmers and non-farmers could be trained and helped to grow in agricultural business and advised Bayelsans to take advantage of the training.
Speaking shortly after the signing ceremony, the Commissioner for Agriculture, David Alagoa, said the MoU has four areas of focus, namely fisheries, rice production as well as plantain and cassava.
Alagoa said the government would establish farms for those trained with the aim of revolutionizing agriculture in the state.
He said a template would soon be made public on how youths could get involved in the training and assured that in line with the governor’s directive, selection would cut across all local government areas and political parties.