TVC E. Ooni of Ile-Ife, Oba Adeyeye Eniitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja ll, has expressed his commitment to collaborate with the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) in its youth empowerment programme.

The monarch who lamented the unprecedented number of youths that are idle across the country while receiving the management of the bank in his palace noted that government and private sectors must be willing to assist youths to go back to farm.

The Ooni also urged the BOA management to make their presence more visible in the country by providing loan to farmers.

“If BOA can be used as a proper conduit in terms of giving soft loans on a long time basis, it will encourage the youths to go back to farm”. He said

Earlier in his remark, the executive director of the bank, Mr Babatunde Igun said that the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) was ready to provide financial and other support services for farmers and youths in the country to boost food production through mechanised farming system.

Igun, said the bank was also ready to collaborate with Ooni on his youths engagement in mechanised farming, adding that BOA would also assist 150 youths who were been trained by Ooni on agriculture mechanisation with loan facilities.

“The most important thing for anyone going into agriculture is skill acquisition. And that is where Ooni has played a dominant role by bringing 150 youths together in the last four months to train them in agriculture mechanisation.

And that is why we are interested in giving them loan after their training.

“In BOA, once we see an organisation, state or individual that is passionate about youths, women and agriculture, we try to come to them and find a way we can collaborate”. He said

Igun added that more than 400 farmers had been empowered in Ile-Ife with N500 million loan facilities in the last few years.

He said with the dwindling effects of crude oil price on the nation’s economy, there was urgent need to assist farmers and youths towards economic diversification through mechanised farming.

“We are ready to assist farmers as well as youths for them to go back to farm and our plan is not for them to go back to hoes and cutlasses farming but rather mechanised farming system.

“And I believe with the assistance BOA is ready to give, in the next few years, our agriculture system will begin to take a new shape”. Igun posited.