Port Harcourt — In implementing one of the recommendations in the UNEP Report to provide an alternative source of livelihood for the people in oil-impacted communities of Ogoniland, the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project has trained 15 Ogoni youths on the fabrication of cassava processing machines.
Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Dr. Marvin Dekil, said the agency in a tripartite collaboration with Stakeholders Democracy Network, SDN and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, developed the template for the training to empower the Ooni youths.
Deikil spoke at the event to mark the passing out of the 15 Ogoni youths, which represents the first batch of Ogoni people trained in fabrication and welding of cassava processing machines at IITA in Onne, Rivers State.
He reaffirmed the commitment of the Federal Government to the clean-up of Ogoni and also assure the people of Ogoni that HYPREP will implement the UNEP Report to the later.
According to him, “Three months ago we ushered in 15young men and women to a life-transforming training in the fabrication of machines for the processing of cassava.
“It has been a long journey for the trainers, who before now had previous training or skills in machine fabrication today, we are here to see a group of youths who are determined, focused, ready to leverage on the opportunities provided by this training to change their lives and be ambassadors of their communities.
“At HYPREP, we will ensure that our skills are put to good use as a cassava processing center will be set up to generate income and also create an economic hub for the community.”
Dekil who was represented at the event by the Head of Legal Services, HYPREP, Grace Ekanem, also announced that the agency will train more Ogoni women in the livelihood programme while commending IITA and SDN for the rich course content and facilities made available for the training.
“Moving forward, HYPREP will train 400women, a hundred from each of the four LGAS of Ogoniland in different skills by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, UNITAR, at Songhai farms for six months.
“The training will o in batches until a total of 1200 Ogoni women are trained in the livelihood program.”
Also speaking, Head of Station, IITA Onne, Dr. Richardson Okechukwu, described the centre as a training centre on agro-business and crop value-chain with specialization in cassava, plantain, maize, banana, etc, as well as post-harvest processing.
Okechukwu said the beneficiaries have been trained on how to fabricate basic cassava processing machines such as roasters, graters, presser, bhurr mill, sifter, peeling machines, and cabinet dryer.
For his part, the Senior Project Officer, SDN, Jesse-Martin Manufor, expressed optimism that graduating trainees will themselves become trainers to train others, as well as set up cooperatives for easier access to other forms of empowerment.
He said they will continue to partner with HYPREP to help improve the livelihoods of the Ogoni communities.
“The choice of this skill was well thought out since cassava is a staple food around this area and Nigeria is the highest producer of cassava in Africa.
“So this training, in essence, is adding value to cassava which in turns get garri, starch, flour, etc. We are happy with the collaboration with HYPREP and IITA, the training hasn’t stopped, we are going to set up cassava processing plants in Ogoni where the trained youths will process surplus cassava planted in Ogoni for sustainable development.”