Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau has promised that his administration will take 5,000 youths in the state out of poverty before the end of 2021.
Lalong said this at the review meeting of Nigeria Competitiveness Project, NICOP, for the state, on Monday in Jos.
Represented by Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Prof. Danladi Atu, the governor said that the programme would be actualised through agriculture, tourism, mining, trade and investment.
According to him, his administration has developed various agricultural and other policies, aimed at supporting young people to be self-sufficient and economically-viable.
Lalong, who described NICOP as timely, said that it would further support the initiative for economic rebirth and youth empowerment.
“This project is apt simply because it aligns with one of the major policies of government, which is economic rebirth.
“Our agenda is to take 5,000 youths out of the street before the end of this year, and this we will do through agriculture, tourism, mining, trade and investment.
“So this project will help us in actualising our plan by adding value to our agricultural sector and engaging our youths in meaningful ventures,” he said.
The governor said that the state had the unique advantage of good weather, fertile soil for growing of all kinds of crops as well as manpower for agriculture to thrive.
He promised to support the project by providing an enabling environment for it to thrive and making the state one of the economic hubs of the country.
Lalong called on residents of the state to take advantage of the project and go into agriculture to improve their personal income and the overall income of the state.
Earlier, the NICOP Adviser on Access to Finance and Investment, Mr Yakubu Musa, said that the project was aimed at developing value chain and improve production of tomato, ginger and chili in the state.
He explained that the four-year project was being executed in partnership with German Cooperation, GIZ, and funded by European Union, EU.
“The focus here is to ensure increased production, processing and preservation, and make markets available for the products.
“NICOP, through this project, will improve quality and productivity through entrepreneurial skill development, while supporting the introduction of innovative technologies for artisanal and small-scale processing through a bottom-top approach.
“This will include production of tomato paste and sauces, drying and canning of tomatoes and chili as well as making of chili oil and other consumer products,” he said.
Speaking at the event, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Chief Adeniyi Adebayo, expressed his readiness to support the project in the areas of funding, expertise and policies.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the minister was represented by the Director of Trade in the ministry, Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar.
“As a ministry, we have the mandate to promote industry, trade and investment. So will do everything possible to see that this project succeeds in Plateau.
“We are ready to work and support the state government with funding and policies, and also link up producers with off-takers in order to ensure the value works,” he said.
NAN reports that goodwill messages were delivered virtually by the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Istifaus Finangwai, representatives of GIZ’s Country Director, Emma Akudo, and that of EU, Ambassador to Nigeria, Frank Okafor.