The World Bank, through the FADAMA III Additional Financing, AFII, Programme, will soon disburse N8.6 billion to 5,916 youth across the country in the Graduate Unemployment Youths Support Scheme, FADAMA GUYS.
Kwaji Daguru, the Chairman of FADAMA GUYS Implementation Committee, disclosed this in an interview with newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday.
Mr Daguru, who is also Procurement Specialist for FADAMA III (AFII) Programme, said that the programme targeted 5,916 youth in 23 states to improve the country’s agricultural production.
The states are Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Niger, Ogun and Ondo States.
Others include Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba and Zamfara states as well as the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
He said that the involvement of youth in the agricultural programme would contribute significantly to the country’s efforts to achieve food security and boost capacity building as well as employment opportunities.
The enrolment for the programme ended on May 15, 2017 with the aim of selecting the beneficiary youth would boost job creation in the 23 states.
Mr Daguru, who said that the funds disbursement had yet to start, however, assured that the money earmarked for the project was intact.
He, nonetheless, said that the disbursement would be made through the Grant and Funds category of the project.
“We have applied to the federal government, through Federal Ministry of Finance for permission to reallocate funds from other categories like Consultancy, Training, Civil Work into the Grant and Funds category.
“Any moment from now, disbursement will take place, especially to those who would engage in rainy season agricultural activities because they have completed the grant agreement and submitted their land documents.
“The Phase One is expected to gulp about N8, 675, 013, 679.12 to fund the business plans of the 5,916 candidates in 23 states.
“If the resources permit in the last segment of the project, we will be able to upscale to other states in the second phase.’’
Mr Daguru said: “The objective of the programme is to work with government in three areas of job creation, while building capacity of our youths and aiding efforts to keep the foreign exchange rates low.
“We are making sure we import low quantities of rice and tomatoes, while putting less pressure on our Naira (currency) so as to make our economy strong.’’
He said that the target beneficiaries were those with ages between 18 and 35 as well as graduates and undergraduates of higher institutions.
“The programme would support all aspects of agricultural production in a business or commercial manner; right from crop and livestock production, inputs support supply and advisory services.
“It would also assist extension services and post-harvest production services like storage, warehousing, marketing and products distribution.’’
Mr Daguru said that after the screening of the candidates, they would be exposed to a two-week intensive training in business and technical fields in the states.
“During the application process, candidates would be allowed to choose specific enterprises of their choice in the agricultural value chain and they would be trained in the ventures accordingly.
“At the end of the training, they would be asked to submit business plans on their chosen enterprises; we will then invite professionals to review the business plans and come up with standard modules.
“We have 5,916 trainees and they have opened bank accounts with two selected commercial banks that are used by the FADAMA Coordinating Offices in the states.’’
The committee chairman said that the rationale behind the opening of the accounts was to have dedicated accounts for the project so as to facilitate proper project monitoring.
Mr Daguru said that the organisers did not want the trainees to use their existing bank accounts, as they could be tempted to use ATM (Automated Teller Machine) to withdraw money from the accounts arbitrarily.
“We want to control the use of the funds, while ensuring that the funds are used for the intended purposes.
“They would not be able to withdraw money from the dedicated accounts without prior approval of state FADAMA offices.
“We will also ensure that they insure their businesses with the Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation, NAIC, in the business plans.
“We have made provision for 2.5 per cent deduction from the total cost of the business as insurance premium,’’ he explained.