With more than 75 per cent of its people under the age of 35, Nigeria boasts of one of the world’s youngest populations.
Giving women and youths in the rural areas opportunities and reducing irregular migration are among the country’s most pressing priorities.
To address these concerns, the Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI) launched the Village Alive Development Initiative (VADI) project to enable economic opportunities for people in rural areas.
ARMTI’s Executive Director Dr Olufemi Oladunni said: “What we are doing in the VADI project is simple. We are demonstrating the simple fact that our dear country has everything we need for the effective diversification of the Nigerian economy through agribusiness, by involving our rural stakeholders/actors in the different agricultural value chains where each community has comparative advantage. We believe that soon enough, every state government and other stakeholders would partner with ARMTI to make the VADI model, a nationwide success story.
“The VADI project started with four communities in our operational area with the flag-off of Seed-Fund on September, 2013. With needed funding in our capital budget by the Federal Government and with the parental support from our Ministry – the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), we are steadily reaching out to more communities around ARMTI and beyond. Three more communities joined VADI in December, 2014 and then two more in April, 2016, making nine participating/beneficiary communities around our operational area, within Kwara State. I am happy to announce to us here today, that a total of nine communities spread through three states: Benue, Nassarawa and Oyo are being admitted i1nto the VADI family through a seed fund disbursement flag-off like the one we are doing here today. “
He added: “The Seed-Fund of N2 million to each of these communities today, marks the official commencement of VADI agribusiness in the two communities. ARMTI will work alongside the communities to teach our people how to put this money to use and how to grow your different enterprises and learn to make profitable businesses from it. You will learn the benefits of working in cooperatives and appreciate group dynamics.”
He said ARMTI had completed baseline study in each of the communities and has identified the prevalent economic activities, including the commodity value chains in the communities.
His words: “We have facilitated the mobilisation and formation of groups in the two communities. The groups are being trained on savings mobilisation and financial record keeping to enable them provide counterpart fund to build up the Seed-Fund. The group members will thereafter, access loans/credit to grow their enterprises. As we speak, the Seed-Fund has been credited into the bank accounts opened in the name of each community respectively. Apart from the Community Accounts, Group Accounts would also be opened. Every member of the hroups has a bank account opened for him/her.”
He stressed that vibrant rural economies are an important engine that can drive improvements in food security and nutrition.
According to him, ARMTI’s Village Alive Development Initiative (VADI) has served as a huge experimental success which is fast becoming a veritable Federal Government intervention to turn the tides of rural farmers and communities as a whole, alleviate poverty and create wealth.
He added that with the standard of living being improved substantially, VADI demonstrates that if given greater capacity and support, our rural people would do more to live well.”
According to him, the project seeks to support farming, entrepreneurship and job creation at the grass-roots level and providing opportunities for growth.
To that end, the project developed an approach to promote rural youth and women entrepreneurship; skills development; access to finance; and improved competitiveness of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the agricultural sector. This, according to him, will help rural farmers and agro entrepreneurs realise their ambitions while creating opportunities for others.
According to Oladunni, ARMTI is strengthening its collaboration to boost rural development and reduce poverty via local initiatives focused on empowering rural women and youth.
VADI is overseen by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as s part of efforts by the Federal Government to encourage people to embrace agriculture.
The scheme involves giving out one million Naira loan to each rural community to empower farmers to grow different crops and also teach them how to invest their profit judiciously.