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The National Directorate of Employment (NDE) has disclosed that it has disbursed N14.6 million agricultural loans to 136 youths in Akwa Ibom within the last five months.
The Director-General of NDE, Malam Abubakar Fikpo, made the disclosure in Uyo on Monday during the orientation of the second phase agricultural loans disbursement and commencement of the Sustainable Agricultural Development Training Scheme (SADTS) for beneficiaries in the state.
Fikpo, who was represented by a senior official of the NDE, Mr Edem Duke, said beneficiaries are entitled to N100,000 each at 9 percent interest rate.
He said the beneficiaries were captured under the Agricultural Enhancement Scheme (AES) and Community-Based Agricultural Empowerment Scheme (CBAES).
He added they were also under Graduate Agricultural Empowerment Scheme (GAES) and Sustainable Agricultural Development and Empowerment Scheme (SADES).
Fikpo said that six months moratorium was given after which beneficiaries were expected to repay the loan in installments over a period of three years.
He expressed gratitude to the Federal Government for the timely release of statutory allocations to the NDE, adding that it has enabled the directorate venture into several poverty alleviation and youth empowerment projects and programmes.
In his words, “They are expected to repay this loan in three years at nine percent interest. The amount was disbursed between December last year and now.
“The emphasis is on agriculture because it is the mainstay of the economy. We are trying to arouse the interest of our youths to go into agriculture and its value chain. The first batch of recipients was empowered last year December.
“When we are talking about agriculture it is not only about planting crops. Buying and selling of agricultural produce is part of it. Not all of them are going to plant or going to rear livestock.
“The NDE under President Muhammadu Buhari has performed very well because financial allocations have been coming on time. That’s why we are able to carry this big load that we are carrying.”
Earlier, the State Coordinator of NDE, Mr Promise Eka, said the SADTS was aimed at creating job opportunities for youths in the Agricultural sector.
“The Sustainable Agricultural Development Training Scheme (SADTS) is a training which places emphasis on the use of modern technology which ensures that Agricultural research and extension services are high-input for crops and animals production in which the state has great comparative advantage.
“The training has two components, the theoretical class for two weeks and adaptive experiential farm for 10 weeks,” Eka said.