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The Enugu state government has pledged its commitment to work together with the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program Phase-1 (ATASP-1) and other donor funded agencies towards empowering youths to drive the economic transformation of the state and the country through agriculture.

Governor Peter Mbah made the declaration on Monday in Enugu during the opening ceremony of the Youth in Agribusiness Incubation Training organized by ATASP-1 in collaboration with Abomax, an Agribusiness service firm.

A total of 50 youths drawn from eight local governments in Anambra and Enugu, ATASP-1 Adani-Omor Zone coverage area are participating in the 10-day incubation programme.

The Governor, represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture and Agro-Industrialization, Mr. Patrick Ubru, restated his vision to raise Enugu state’s GDP to $30 billion from $4.4 billion by 2031 through agricultural transformation and innovation.

According to him, there are endless opportunities in modern agriculture for youths that have the energy and drive; and that all the value-chains, including digital agricultural marketing are open for interested youths.

He told the participants: “As you are already aware of Enugu State Government’s core vision is to grow the state’s GDP from $4.4 billion to $30 billion by 2031”.

Ubru reassured the participants of the state government’s commitment to invest in training and empowering youths to become successful in modern agriculture, stressing that “no country develops without sustainably huge investments in agriculture.

Some of the participants

While welcoming the Incubatees, the National Programme Coordinator of ATASP-1, Dr Ibrahim Arabi, disclosed that the training was part of the program mandate to attract, train and support youths to become successful farmers.

Arabi, represented by ATASP-1 National Agribusiness Specialist, Dr Kunle Alege, adds that the Federal Government launched ATASP-1 to ensure food and nutritional sufficiency.

“ATASP-1 is also transformimg agricultural landscape through reduction in post-harvest losses, value addition to local agricultural produce, development of rural infrastructure and enhancement of access of farmers and other value chain actors to financial services and markets”, he said.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Zonal Programme Coordinator ATASP-1 Adani-Omor Zone, Dr Romanus Egba, lauded the support and smooth working relationship between Enugu State Government and ATASP-1.

Egba said: “I commend the agriculture-loving Governor of Enugu State, Dr Peter Mbah, for paying a huge backlog of 7-year arrears of ATASP-1 counterpart fund at once. This shows the outright commitment and seriousness of the government towards agriculture.

“I want everybody here to continue to pray and support the governor and our amiable commissioner for more resources to be made available and for these training to continue for thousands of youths across the state.”

Egba, further assured the incubatees that those that performed exceptionally well during the training and develop a good business plan/proposal would get seed fund as a start-up grant and that ATASP-1 would link the incubatees with lawmakers, other top political office-holders and organizations willing to support youth agribusinesses.

One of the incubatees, Miss Amarachi Ezemaduekwe, thanked ATASP-1 for providing them opportunity for such intensive training and promised to apply the knowledge gained in her agribusiness.

“I am grateful to all, especially ATASP-1 that made the training possible”, she said.

Another incubatees, Mr Kingsley Chukwuebuka Orie, the class governor said that the training had made a huge impact in his life as he would be going back to be more committed to Agribusiness as he had been fired up to also become employer of labour.

Among the dignitaries that attended the event were the Permanent Secretary, Enugu State Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Industrialization, Mr. Victor Ngwu, the State Director Enugu State Agriculture Development Program, ENADEP Prof. Samuel Ogbonna Onyishi, Project Manager, Abomax Youth in Agribusiness, Mrs Heather-Ronke Akanni, Chief Emmanuel Ude, Zonal Outreach Specialist, ATASP-1 Adani-Omor Zone, Chinelo Obiefune, Zonal Agribusiness Specialist, ATASP-1 among others.

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