By Rita Esegine
Abia State Project Coordinating Office of the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises-Niger Delta (LIFE-ND), said it has successfully concluded the process of selecting potential incubatees in 25 Communities across the 10 selected Local Government Areas in the State for the initial stage.
The State Project Coordinator, LIFE-ND, Dr Uchenna Onyeizu, who made the disclosure in an interaction section with ABIA-ONLINE at LIFE-ND office, Umuahia, stated that the selection exercise took place in 25 communities spread across the 10 Local Government Areas, namely: Aba South, Bende, Isiala Ngwa North, Isiala Ngwa South, Obingwa, Ohafia, Osisioma Ngwa, Ugwunagbo, Ukwa West and Umuahia South.
He also hinted that the next action is to linkup the incubatees with the already inaugurated incubators who will in turn train them in their chosen field of agro commodity using their own facilities.
Dr. Onyeizu said that the project adopted what it called the incubator/incubatee model in order to see how effective it can be in reviving our rural economy.
“We have been able to identify agro entrepreneurs (enterprises) that are into agricultural production, processing and marketing across these Communities that we are working on. We want to look at those that are already doing the business of Agriculture and making money that have experiences.
“What we did was to identify them, and also identify what we call incubatees. The incubatees are young persons between the ages of 18 and 35, and households headed by women with children below the age of 15 years gay are living very close to these incubators. After reached understanding with these incubators, we engage the incubatees who will be trained at these incubators’ farms as the case may be. Onyeizu, said.
Dr. Onyeizu also disclosed that about 25 incubators, who are Abia residents, and are willing to allow Abia Office of Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises-Niger Delta make use of their facilities to train the young persons. He added that the project plans to empower about 4500 incubatees across the 100 Communities but has decided to do it in stages so that it would be able to learn as the process progresses.
On the transparency of the selection process, he said; “I want to note that the selection process is as transparent as possible. We are looking at young persons who are unemployed or underemployed, young persons who are enthusiastic in venturing into agro businesses within these rural communities and we’re hopeful. We have also placed a very stringent criteria in terms of their selection to avoid possible influences by either the political or community leaders or whoever could influence such processes. With this measure, we are sure to get those that really deserve this project so that the project can really transform lives, because the project aims at reviving the rural economy.”
Dr. Onyeizu debunked the insinuations that those trained would be given a cash loans to start up their own business. According to him, on completion of their training, the project is expected to work in close relationship with the State Government and the Communities where they come from, to identify lands where it will build a replica and better facility of where they graduated from and move them into those facilities.
In a separate interviews, some of the Consultants who were on hand to interview prospective incubatees in these Communities, including Dr. M B. Agbarevo and Ms Blessing Efe, noted that despite some challenges that appear to scuttle the exercise, it ended up being a huge success. They thanked the Communities for their show of understanding and cooperation that enabled them in accomplishing the task.
Speaking on the essence of the programme, Dr. Agbarevo, an Associate Professor in the Department of Agriculture Extension of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, said, “The emphasis is on livelihood improvement with the main objective of reducing poverty in the rural areas because if you build capacity of people in terms of knowledge and skills and be able to empower them financially, they will be able to create wealth.
“It is quite laudable because rural poverty has been a very serious problem for this country and this is one of the ways of reducing rural poverty since it can never be completely wiped out so that the standard of living of the rural people can be improved.”
Some community leaders, who spoke on the exercise described the selection process as very open and transparent. They lauded both the federal and state governments for the LIFE-ND project and expressed the hope that the project would go a long way in reducing unemployment among the young people in their communities as well as improve the economy of the rural people.