Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has described the National Egg Production, NEGPRO, scheme as a tremendous boost to the National School Feeding Programme in the state and a significant leap in the determined efforts of his administration at moving away from the entrenched attitude of complacent indolence to a productive mindset.
Speaking at the flag-off of the programme at Aye in Ifedore Local Government Area of Ondo State, the governor appreciated the Federal Government for the choice of Ondo State as the pilot point for NEGPRO Scheme with assurance that the people of the state would reciprocate the gesture by ensuring that the programme achieved its objectives.
Arakunrin Akeredolu observed that the era of automatic white collar jobs was over, hence the decision for training and engagement of 18,000 youths across the state in productive Agriculture.
Describing Agriculture as the alternative to white collar jobs, he hinted that his administration has established the Ondo State Agri-Business Empowerment Centre, OSAEC, for the engagement of youth in the value chain of constructive and productive intervention in the sector.
The governor stated that under the programme; “Youth-on-the-Ridges”, young men and women would be involved pin agricultural best practices.
While saying that the programme would be taken to Secondary Schools in the state, Arakunrin Akeredolu said five Secondary Schools per Local Government Area have been shortlisted for the School-on-the-Ridges scheme.
“The programme is not only to reintroduce practical agriculture in our schools, but also, and more importantly, to encourage our young ones to become agropreneurs.
“We have established, already, four Agro Business Cities, ABC, in the three Senatorial Districts of the state. Ore is chosen for the Southern District, Epe for Central and Auga and Isuada for the North.
“Our promise to create jobs through Agriculture, Entrepreneurship and Industrialisation, is anchored on realistic expectations.
“We are convinced that lasting peace, with attendant development, can only be achieved, if our youths are engaged positively”, he said.
Arakunrin Akeredolu who noted that his administration has almost completed the Chocolate Factory in Idanre, said the state has sunk enormous resources into the take-off of project.
He assured that he was determined to complete all projects designed to ameliorate living conditions of the people, left uncompleted by previous administrations in the state.
The governor who pointed out that 135 poultry farmers would benefit from the Scheme in Ondo State, assured that NEGPRO Scheme would profer solutions to the challenges of youth employment, food security and lead to significant increase in revenue generation.
The Governor used the occasion to decry incessant clashes between the herdsmen and farmers, and said security agents in the state have been mobilised to forestall such incidents on farms across the state.
In his address the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, stressed the need for the production of home grown foods and products instead of reliance on importation.
While flagging off, the pilot phase of the National Egg Production, NEGPRO, Scheme, the Minister said the Federal Government would no longer continue to spend billions of dollars annually on the importation of milk and its products.
He said as much as Nigeria needed quality beef and milk for her citizens, the country should be able to produce the products internally.
“We should be able to grow our own cattle and chickens, and produce our own eggs,” he said.
Chief Ogbe assured that the egg production programme would transform the lives of many Nigerians through employment creation.
He urged every Nigerian, especially the youths, to join hands with the government to make the programme a success.
Earlier in his welcome address, the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Otunba Gboyega Adefarati had said the NEGPRO Scheme is a Public Private Partnership initiative designed to create jobs for Nigerians, and also ensure self-sufficiency in poultry production.
He outlined some objectives of the scheme which include: Generating one million jobs through egg production and processing value chain and to attain a daily production of 50 million table eggs nationwide at full implementation of the scheme.
Others include: To develop local capacity for processing a minimum of 70% of table eggs produced into shelf-stable egg based products, such as egg powder as well as creating a sustainable poultry industry to support economic diversification and foreign exchange earnings through exports among others.
He hinted that in pursuance of the listed objectives, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has appointed TUNS Farm Nigeria Limited as Consultant to manage the Scheme with a view to supporting the State Gaovernment to boost local production of safe eggs and chicken meat for integration into the School Feeding Programme.
Stakeholders in the National Egg Production Scheme present at the flag-off ceremony including the Managing Director of Bank of Agriculture, Alhaji Kabir Mohammed Adamu; the Managing Director of Nigeria Agric Insurance Company, Mrs Folashade Joseph; the National President of the Poultry Association of Nigeria, Chief Ezekiel Baba and the National Anchor of the Scheme who is also the Consultant, Chief Tunde Badmus expressed optimisms that the current focus of the Federal Government backed up by the initiative of the Ondo State Government would bring back the lost glory of Nigeria in Agriculture.
Responding on behalf of poultry farmers from all the Southwest States present at the occasion, the Ondo State Chairman, Poultry Association of Nigeria, PAN, Mrs Augustina Ebiwonjumi thanked the Federal and the State Governments for the gesture which she said would increase food production in the state.
She assured that the support fund of N564 million presented to PAN by the Federal Government would be judiciously used as well as ensure that the scheme became sustainable.