Nigeria’s population is over 200 million and according to the National Bureau of Statistics, 70% of those 200 million people are youths. That’s a lot, right? Well, more shocking information is that over five million Nigerian youths between the ages of 15-24 are unemployed with 19.8% of that population under-employed.
Now, these young persons need a source of income and means of livelihood so that they can cater for their necessities, but how can they do that when the population of graduates and employable youths far outweighs the number the formal sector can absorb?
In order to escape poverty, many young people migrate from rural to urban areas to look for better opportunities. The formal sectors where most graduates seek employment cannot absorb the large number of graduates, estimated to be between 10 to 12 million young people per year (AGRA 2015) in Nigeria alone.
Agriculture presents a unique opportunity for Nigerian youths to thrive economically and otherwise, not only because it is the largest contributor to Gross Domestic Product in most African countries, but also because it continues to evolve and experience significant growth. Agribusiness is one of such emerging trends in Agriculture. Agribusiness is used to describe the sector that encompasses all economic activities that are related to farming, i.e., chemicals, breeding, crop production/farming, farm machinery, distribution, marketing. They involve a marketing and sales as well. However, most Nigerian youths remain uninterested in agriculture. Agriculture is not attractive to young persons and it baffles me a lot seeing the formal sector cannot absorb the large number of graduates and that one does not need to have studied agriculture to delve into it. Also, Nigeria is a very conducive environment for farming and again, everyone consumes food! So, this blog post is a wakeup call to the youth to become more engaged and involved in Agriculture. This will l not only benefit youths but the Country at large.
BENEFITS OF YOUTH INVOLVEMENT IN AGRICULTURE
Some of the benefits of youth involvement in Agriculture are:
- Decrease in unemployment rate among youths and better living conditions for youths.
- Economic boom.
- Promotion of adequate nutrition.
- More youths become enlightened on food and nutrition security.
- Improved climate condition.
In order to meet youths’ expectations and country’s benefit of contributing to development of population in rural areas, there is need to make agriculture more attractive to the youths and create jobs in the agricultural sector.
- The government should put in place and implement laws and policies that support young farmers.
- There should be agricultural trainings (online and physical) for young persons who want to be involved in agribusiness to gain technical and entrepreneurial skills.
- Young persons should encourage their peers through social media and other means to join Agribusiness.
- Schools should establish an extracurricular agriculture club so that children can learn about and be interested in agriculture from a young age.
- There should be linkages with public actors like the Ministry of Agriculture, etc. to facilitate access to land and inputs and private actors like farmer associations, Bank of Industry, cooperatives, microfinance institutions to facilitate access to credits, loans etc. and provide guidance to youths.
- Inclusion of youth in relevant agriculture program design as well as relevant national policy and strategy processes.
The sustainability of agriculture relies on young people particularly those in the rural areas. After reading this, I encourage you to pick up a shovel, fishing rod, watering can or anything else you’re comfortable with and GET TO WORK! You could start with a backyard/home garden!!!