Lalong promises to take 5,000 youths out of poverty by 2021ending

 Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau has promised to take 5,000 youths of the state out of poverty before the end of 2021.

Lalong, said this at the review meeting of the Nigeria Competitiveness Project (NICOP) for the state on Monday in Jos.

Represented by Prof. Danladi Atu, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), the governor said that the move would be actualised through agriculture.

According to him, his administration has developed various agricultural and other policies aimed at supporting young people to be self sufficient and through economically viable programmes.

Lalong, who described NICOP as timely, said it would further support its initiative for economic rebirth and youth empowerment.

“This project is apt simply because it aligns with one of the major policies of government, which is economic rebirth.

“Our agenda is to take 5,000 youths out of the streets before the end of this year. And this we will do through agriculture, tourism, mining, trade and investment.

“So, this project will help us in actualising our plan by adding value to our agricultural sector and engaging our youths in meaningful ventures,” he said.

The governor said that the state had the unique advantage of good weather, fertile soil for growing of all kinds of crops as well as the manpower for agriculture to thrive.

He promised to support the project by providing an enabling environment for it to thrive and make the state one of the economic hubs of the country.

Lalong called on residents of the state to take advantage of the project and go into agriculture to improve their personal income and the overall income of the state.

Earlier, Mr Yakubu Musa, the Adviser on Access to Finance and Investment of NICOP, said that the project was aimed at developing a value chain and improving the production of tomatoes, ginger and chili in Plateau.

He explained that the four-year project was being executed in partnership with the German International Cooperation (GIZ) and funded by the European Union (EU).

“The focus here is to ensure increased production, processing, preservation and making available markets for these products

“NICOP through this project will improve quality and productivity through entrepreneurial skills development, while supporting the introduction of innovative technologies for artisanal and small-scale processing in bottom-top approach.

“This will include production of tomato paste and sauces, drying and canning of tomatoes and chili, as well as making of chili oil and other end consumer products,” he said.

Speaking at the event, Mr Richard Adebayo, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, expressed his office’s readiness to support the project.

Represented by Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar, the Director of Trade in the ministry, Adebayo said that it would support the project in terms of funding, expertise and policies.

“As a ministry we have the mandate to promote industry, trade and investment, so we will do everything possible to see this project succeeds in Plateau.

“We are ready to work and support the state government with funding, policies and also link up producers with off- takers in order to ensure the value chain works,” he said. (NAN)