The Niger Delta Development Commission has handed over a cheque of one billion Naira to the Bank of Agriculture for disbursement to beneficiaries of the 1st phase of its Agricultural and Fisheries credit and Entrepreneur Development Scheme.
Presenting the cheque, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Of NDDC, Dr Christian Oboh explained that the credit scheme is in line with the Commission’s policy thrust on agricultural development, wealth and job creation as well as food security and poverty reduction.
Dr Oboh, who was represented by the former Acting Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, Mrs Osato Arenyeka stated that the scheme is designed for Niger delta youths, women and men who have been trained in various agricultural skills.
According to him, eleven thousand youths have so far been trained in agriculture and feed formulation, poultry, rabbitry, snailry and food processing, pointing out that “the ultimate is to bring about the much desired improvement on the quality of life of the people of the region” Dr Oboh said.
He explained that the partnership between the NDDC and Bank of Agriculture on the scheme was to create access to credit facility for members of registered cooperatives in the region, adding that 255 cooperatives, comprising 2,550 youths will benefit from the first and second phases of the programme.
He called on all stakeholders to support the initiative which is aimed at providing a window of opportunity for unemployed youths.
While advising the beneficiaries to ensure judicious use of the money, Dr Oboh said “the money being disbursed to you is a loan and not a grant and must be paid back for others to benefit from the scheme.
The Rivers State Governor, Rt Hon Rotimi Amaechi, represented by an official of the State Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Shalous Warmate commended the NDDC for the scheme, saying that such programmes were needed to address the problem of youth unemployment and poverty alleviation in the Niger Delta region.
In her speech, Director Agriculture and fisheries, Dr Akwagaga Enyia said apart from the Bank of Agriculture, the Commission has also engaged consultants to ensure the success of the programme, through monitoring and evaluation.
Also speaking the Managing Director of Bank of Agriculture, Dr Mohammed Santuraki described the scheme as well thought out, and enjoined the beneficiaries to ensure that the funds were well utilized.