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Amnesty scheme rejigs, plans to train, empower 10,000 repentant militants in farming

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Indications have emerged that contrary to speculations that the federal government has reduced budget for the continuation of Amnesty Programme, the Presidential Amnesty Office says plans are ongoing to train and empower 10, 000 repentant militants in in agriculture.

The key target of the new scheme is to create 40,000 farm workers in 2017.

The Coordinator and Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Brig.-Gen Paul Boroh (retired) disclosed this in an interview Tuesday in Abuja.

Boroh said the office had keyed into the Green Alternative initiative of the Federal Government through strategic partnership with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers programme.

He said that the Amnesty Office would collaborate with governors of the nine oil producing states, Ministry of Agriculture and National Biotechnology Resource Centre.

The Special Adviser said the training programme would be done in clusters.

Boro said that the office in collaboration with the Bioresources Development Agency had developed and equipped more than 200 ex-agitators with tools and research mechanism needed in agriculture.

Boroh said the dynamics of the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme would not only create millions of jobs, but was also capable of lifting thousands of small holder farmers out of poverty.

He called on governors of the nine oil producing states to assist in integrating trained youths through sustainable human capacity development and job opportunities.

According to him, collaborating with the states will serve as a control post that will enable the Presidential Amnesty Office in Abuja to have a firm control of the beneficiaries at the grassroots.

The Amnesty boss said that President Buhari’s administration was committed to laying a solid economic foundation for the future through mechanised farming.

The move according to him, is tilted toward ensuring that indigenes of the Niger Delta region earned a living rather than beg for it.

He said that the nation was blessed with arable land that tolerates cultivation for all seasons, adding that he was committed to exploring the agricultural potential of the nation to its maximum advantage.

This, he noted could be achieved by ensuring that the abundant hectares of land is put to use agriculturally.

The special adviser, however, urged the beneficiaries to take agriculture as a primary or secondary means of income in order to generate jobs, wealth and achieve food security.

“For decades, agriculture has been associated with production of essential food crops.

“At present, agriculture above and beyond farming includes forestry, dairy, fruit cultivation, poultry, bee keeping, mushroom, and arbitrary among others.

“Today, processing, marketing and distribution of crops and livestock products etc. are all acknowledged as part of current agriculture.

“Thus, agriculture could be referred to as the production, processing, promotion and distribution of agricultural products,” he said.

According to Boroh, in addition to providing food and raw materials, agriculture also provides employment opportunities to very large percentage of Nigeria’s population.

He explained that approximately 70 per cent of the people directly relied on agriculture as a means of livelihood

Boroh expressed optimism that agriculture would contribute to the revenue of Niger Delta region in the future as against its smaller contribution to the region at present.

He said by the end of 12 months engagement of the beneficiaries, the growth of agricultural sector would  contribute to marketable surplus in the region and the nation at large.

“Many people engage in manufacturing, mining as well as other non- agricultural sector as the nation develops.

“All these individuals will rely on food production that they might meet from the nation’s marketable surplus.

“As the agricultural sector development takes place, production increases and this leads to expansion of marketable surplus. This may be exported to other nations,’’ he said.

According to him, the agriculture sector provides more employment opportunities to the labour force which can reduce the high rate of unemployment in developing countries caused by the fast growing population.


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