The planting season for the Port Harcourt Chapter of the Base Youths Empowerment Through Agriculture (BYETA) programme was flagged off by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Thursday, April 12.
The BYETA programme, an initiative of the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abuabkar, is aimed at empowering youths economically in order to curb social vices and crime among youths residing on NAF bases. The programme is also aimed at promoting agriculture and self-sufficiency among the youths. Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Tactical Air Command, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Isiaka Amao flagging off the programme.
While speaking during the flag-off ceremony at 115 Special Operations Group Port Harcourt, the CAS, represented by the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Tactical Air Command, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Isiaka Amao, reiterated the commitment of the current NAF leadership to develop human capacity, not only of personnel but also of the youths residing on all NAF bases.
The programme is also aimed at promoting agriculture and self-sufficiency among the youths. This, according to him, is in line with the first key driver of CAS Vision, which is ‘human capacity development through robust and result oriented training for enhanced professional performance’. “The youths represent the future and a misdirected youth population will ultimately lead to a misdirected community,” he said. Some of the beneficiaries of the programme at the event.
The CAS representative stated that BYETA members had been encouraged to form agriculture cooperative societies for the purpose of accessing loans to boost food production. While noting that the cooperative societies had been formed, he added that the NAF Investments Limited was also interested in funding some aspects of the BYETA Programme. He urged all youths above 18 years residing in the base to take advantage and fully participate in the scheme to enhance their resource base and also learn a skill, which they might need later in life. AVM Amao then thanked the CAS, Air Marshal Abubakar, for the laudable initiative. Earlier in his remarks, the Commander 115 Special Operations Group, Air Commodore Elijah Ebiowe stated that 106 youths are now participating in the BYETA programme, a sharp improvement from only 45 youths that initially showed interest.
According to him, aside from crop farming, plans are underway to commence training in fishery and poultry. In addition, the Unit intends to collaborate with viable agricultural agencies that could promote training and also grant needed sponsorships for the programme. According to the commander, the crops to be cultivated include yam, cucumber, pumpkin, and cassava. BYETA programme was first launched in the NAF in the year 2016. So far, the scheme has been replicated in Makurdi, Kaduna, Lagos, and Benin. The official flag-off of the planting season for the remaining NAF units has been scheduled for later dates because of variations in farming seasons.