The YAGEPreneurs were established at Ogwashi-Uku/Ewulu and Mbiri Crop Clusters in Aniocha South and Ika North East Local Government Areas respectively.
Allocating the Crop Clusters to the beneficiaries at Ogwashi/Ewulu YAGEP Crop Cluster measuring about 207 hectares, the State Governor, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, congratulated them for the successful completion of their training/internship at different training centres across the state.
He said establishing the 2016 Cycle YAGEPreneurs in different farm clusters according to their crop enterprise is the vision of his administration to tackle youth unemployment, promote agro-industrialization and market for agricultural produce towards wealth creation.
Governor Okowa disclosed that the YAGEPreneurs would commence the first season of their production circle with dry season tomato farming using Jain Irrigation System, pointing out that it is cost effective and would target the market to meet the increasing demand for tomato at the peak period.
The Governor represented by the State Chief Job Creation Officer, Prof Eric Eboh, also disclosed that they would be provided with other farm inputs such as improved seeds of COBRA Variety, development of water sources (borehole), water storage, water supply, water distribution facilities and installation of irrigation drip kits.
Other inputs were development of nurseries for seedlings; support for transplanting of seedlings; agro-chemicals such as fungicides, pesticides and herbicides; fertilizer; a monthly stipend for six (6) months and a micro credit component repayable within a year after six (6) months moratorium.
On his part, a Job Creation Resource Person for Crop Production, Hon Paul Okpue, tasked the YAGEPreneurs to take the opportunity provided by the State Government seriously so as to become successful entrepreneurs and managers in future.
Speaking also at Mbiri, he said the handing over of the YAGEP site to the YAGEPreneurs was another milestone by the Okowa-led administration and a life time opportunity that would transform their destinies.
While stressing that the YAGEP initiative is modern science based, knowledge and a profit driven agriculture, he added that dry season tomato farming is targeted at market peak for quick turnover and profit maximization.
He charged them to form cooperative groups to enable them benefit from Governments’ micro credit facilities and grants.
He assured them that the Job Creation Resource Person, Hon Paul Okpue and SYNGENTA Company would assist them throughout the production cycle by way of technical support, guidance and capacity building on crop and soil management.
He explained that the 127 hectares Mbiri Farm Cluster would boost economic activities in Mbiri and its environs when given the necessary attention, regretting that it was abandoned for decades.
He noted thus, “Mbiri is an important agricultural hub in the state with crop and fish clusters and with agriculture being the cardinal point of His Excellency, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa’s, SMART agenda, we are hopeful that the land will be rescued and development fast-tracked in the next two years”.
On the aspect of security, he assured them that the land is free from all encumbrances, but said YAGEPreneurs, farm manager, the traditional ruler of Mbiri and other stakeholders would collaborate to ensure safety of the investment.
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, Peace Okigala ( Ndokwa West) and Moni- Igwebuikem Nkiruka (Ika North East) located in Ogwashi-Uku/Ewulu and Mbiri Farm Clusters respectively affirmed they completed their training/internship in their various centres and are grateful to the State Government for establishing them with so much to begin their enterprises in Crop Production.
According to them, the State Government has put smiles on their faces in spite of the economic challenges facing the entire country, asserting that from their calculation of dry season tomatoes cultivation in a land of 2000 sq. m per YAGEPreneur, they have estimated to rake in the sum of N5m each in a production cycle.
The Office of the Chief Job Creation Officer was created as a special purpose vehicle for the actualisation of job and wealth creation under the S.M.A.R.T agenda. The job and wealth creation scheme has been tagged OkowaPlus.