By Adekola Afolabi
No fewer than 2,350 youths in Ondo state have been empowered through the FGN/IFAD/LIFE-ND agribusiness incubation model since 2020 when the project started.
The Ondo State Project Coordinator, LIFE-ND, Prince Olawale Ademola, disclosed this on Thursday while listing their various achievements during a Media Roundtable meeting on IFAD/FGN/LIVELIHOOD IMPROVEMENT FAMILY Enterprises – Niger Delta (LIFE-ND) PROJECT, held in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
He said the program is in collaboration with the Federal Government, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the state government. The project is in response to the limited readily available options for the “disadvantaged” (youths and women) in the rural and sub-urban communities to improve their means of livelihood and help them live decent lives.
Ademola noted that the incubatees (beneficiaries) cut across the 10 participating local government areas of the state, even as he promised to do more to further create more jobs and invest in rural people in the state.
“We have about 2,350 beneficiaries on board now out of 4,250 considering the life span of the project. The project’s lifespan is six years and we have just entered the 4th year of the project. We have captured half of our target and in two-three years to come we shall surely achieve the rest.
“Out of the 2,350 that we have on board, close to 2,000 of them have really established their enterprises. We have four selected/chosen agric enterprises for the youth. We have Cocoa, cassava, fish farming and poultry farming. It cuts across all the value chains that are existing per enterprise.
Beneficiaries of the project were taken through various trainings, processing, packaging, marketing, and thereafter being empowered with necessary supports including funds and equipment to start their respective and chosen businesses.
The project Coordinator, who emphasised that the program has taken many youths off the streets and positively impacted their lives, also noted that taking youths off the streets and giving them means of livelihood remains the primary focus of the IFAD/FGN/ LIFE-ND.
Early, the State Rural Institution, Gender and Youth Officer, Mrs Bola Ajibade, appreciated the media for their unalloyed support to ensure the success of the program, promising continued collaboration to achieve more for the betterment of the youth.
She added that the program is a testament to the fact that Nigerian youths are productive and not lazy if they are given the opportunities.
Some of the beneficiaries/incubatees including Fasakin Abiodun; Femi Olofingbasote; Miss Ojo Mercy; Mrs Bakare Boluwaji and Miss Dahunsi Oluwakemisola, confirmed that the project has transformed their lives by creating various window of opportunities to be self-reliant and employers of labour.
According to them, the project has taken them from being nothing to being something in life.
The event also witnessed exhibition of incubatees’ products such as tomatoes, eggs, cucumbers, cassava flour, Cocoa, fishes, okra, pupuru, among others.l