The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has given $78 million as a training grant to 150 farmers in Bauchi State and the FCT to boost food security in Nigeria.
The beneficiaries are farmers of the Community Allied Farmers Association of Nigeria (COMAFAS).
Massandje Toure-Litse, ECOWAS Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, made this known at the opening of a poultry training workshop for beneficiaries in Orozo, Abuja, on Tuesday.
Ms Toure-Litse said the grant would increase young people’s capacity to engage in agriculture value chains and food production.
She added that it would go toward training 150 youth in poultry and fisheries, adding that the two sub-sectors were the main driving force behind the sub-region’s economy and development.
She said ECOWAS has designed quality training modules and arranged to train 3,032 young people (30 per cent women and 70 per cent men).
Ms Toure-Litse said agricultural productivity and competitiveness in West Africa tended to positively impact the sub-region’s food security, economic development, and livelihoods.
According to her, the ECOWAS Agriculture Policy remains the guiding framework for the 15 bloc members as it prioritises agricultural productivity and competitiveness.
She added that there was a need for urgent intervention in gender participation in agriculture and youth employment, food chains, crops, forestry, livestock, and fisheries.
“It is anticipated that by 2030, at least 30 per cent of young people in the sub-region will be employed in the agriculture sector.
“This will amount to a 75 per cent reduction in youth under-employment in rural areas,’’ she said.
In his remarks, Austine Maduka, founder of COMAFAS, said despite the expansion of the poultry industry in Nigeria, it could only cater to 30 per cent of the needs of Nigerians.
Seventy-five of the 150 beneficiaries would be trained in poultry farming in the FCT, while the remaining 75 would be trained in fish farming in Bauchi.
The FCT beneficiaries were given 50 birds each, bags of poultry feeds and drugs as start-up capital.