To mitigate the effect of coronavirus pandemic on the Ondo State economy, 1,000 youths are being trained in modern tomato production and processing.
The training, organised by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Ondo Province 4, in partnership with the state government, was geared towards teaching the beneficiaries on modern techniques in planting tomatoes and other value chains.
Assistant Pastor in charge of Region 22 of the church, Adesina Tugbobo, disclosed that the church set up a committee on how to engage the youths during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tugbogbo, who noted that the training would take place in all the RCCG parishes across the 18 local councils, added that the initiative would reduce unemployment in the state.
During the pilot training at the Province 4, Akure, Special Adviser to Governor on Agric and Agribusiness, Mr Akin Olotu, said the government intervened to make agriculture attractive to the youths.
Olotu revealed that Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu government is committed to revolutionising tomato cultivation and other agro-products to reduce capital flight from the state.
According to him, tomato is one of the sources of capital flight in the state, recounting that the largest percentage of tomatoes consumed in the state come from the north.
“The state government carried out varietal trials last year and was convinced that tomato cultivation is worthwhile and good for youths in particular, who are talking about unemployment.
“To rev up local production of the commodity and make it attractive, the government is supplying seeds, inputs, infrastructure and has cleared about 1,000 hectares of land in 11 locations across the state and land clearing is still ongoing,” he said.
Apart from sourcing for assistance from financial institutions for the beneficiaries, he revealed that the governor had approved funds for inputs in aquaculture.