The Federal Government has embarked on a scheme to engage graduates in agriculture.
Speaking with newsmen at the weekend in Abuja, the minister of water resources, Sarah Ochekpe, said the programme called Irrigation Graduate Farmers’ Programme is being coordinated by the river basin development authorities in the country and would involve an initial intake of 300 graduates.
She said they would be trained not just only on farming but also on aqua culture and food processing.
The minister said the idea is to develop a new generation of farmers who would replace the aging farmers in the rural areas across the country. “The idea is to make them have agriculture as their lifetime occupation. It is a deliberate effort to have a new generation of farmers that will use technology for agricultural process. We are being very careful in our selection to get people who will not opt out”, she said.
The minister added that the ministry of water resources was working with the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) and SURE-P to make the scheme a success.
She added that the project would be provided for in the 2014 budget.
Ochekpe also said in 2012 that her ministry undertook the rehabilitation of 1,000 boreholes in 16 states of the federation, saying that the boreholes rehabilitated were either constructed by local governments or were intervention projects under the MDGs programme.
She said the ministry has encouraged communities to be involved in the maintenance of water facilities through the formation of Water Users Association in such communities.
On the lingering issue of Lake Chad drying up, the minister said the Federal Government funded the feasibility study of Lake Obaje in the Central African Republic which showed that water could be transferred from there to Lake Chad.
She noted that such transfer of water to Lake Chad from Lake Obaje would cost $14.5 million, adding that the various countries involved in the Lake Chad were sourcing for funds to execute the project.
Nigeria, Ochekpe said, is working to transfer water to Lake Chad through the Hadeja Jamare Dam.
MAX AMUCHIE, Abuja