By Ifeanyi Olannye
The Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises in the Niger Delta (LIFE-ND), a Federal Government designed programme, has engaged 320 unemployed youths, women and Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWD) in Delta.
Mr Collins Ashoro, the State Coordinating Officer, LIFE-ND, disclosed this while briefing newsmen on the project’s achievement on Wednesday in Asaba.
Ashoro noted that the six years agricultural-based project of the Federal Government is in collaboration with the International Funds for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
It is also in collaboration with nine state governments in the region.
He said that the LIFE-ND project was designed in response to the limited and readily available entrepreneurial skills options that focuses on youths in the Niger Delta region.
He said that the benefiting states in the region are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers.
He said though the project began in 2019 in Delta, most of its activities were slowed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Ashoro said that the project was expected to gulp US$90 million which would be co-funded by the Federal Government, IFAD, NDDC and the Niger Delta states through counterpart funding.
He said that the Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa-led government has been committed in the payment of its counterpart funds which has enable the project to run without hitches since inception.
He added that government is also making plans to pay the \second tranche.
According to him, the project cycle which commenced in February 2019 is billed for closure in March 2025 with the targeted direct beneficiaries of 4,250 youths and women including persons with disability.
“Ten Local Government Areas are selected to benefit from the project in Delta with 100 communities, 10 communities from each selected Local Government Area (LGA), to participate in the project.
“The expected beneficiaries are unemployed youths between the ages of 18 years and 35 years; also women headed household with children under the ages of 15 years and persons with disabilities.
“The goal and objective are to realise a transformed rural economy in which the population can drive prosperity and equal benefit.
“And also to enhance income, food security and job creation for rural youths and women through agri-enterprises development on a sustainable bases in the Niger Delta region.’’
He said in order for the project to achieve its goal, it adopted the Incubator Model, the agricultural firm or centre with an expert while the incubatee is the beneficiary of the project.
According to Ashoro, the project has so far established 58 Incubation centres out of the targeted 100 centres, engaged 320 incubatees out of the 4,250 targeted incubatees (beneficiaries) of the LIFE-ND project in Delta.
“We have disbursed working capitals to 30 incubation centres out of the 58 established ones in the state and in order to drive the projects, LIFE-ND is embarking on eight infrastructural projects for the incubatees.
“We have registered 39 enterprise groups and have trained 33 enterprise groups on group dynamics, records keepings, conflict management and savings mobilisation.
Ashoro said that the beneficiaries are trained in four thematic enterprises where the state has comparative advantage which is oil palm, cassava, poultry and fish.
He said that the incubatees would be given a revolving loan as working capital not in cash but as inputs while being mentored to enable them start their own businesses after the training.
According to him, the incubation model will be at the community level of the selected LGAs, targeting core commodities of comparative advantage in such communities.
“The incubatees will go through a period of two business cycle for any chosen commodity with the use of working capital which will come in the form of inputs and it is a revolving loan that is managed by the incubator (expert) for the incubatees (beneficiaries). (NAN)