Everyday the population of Nigeria increases. An international survey on African nations population indicates that in 2030, Nigeria’s population, which now stands at 158 million, would hit a staggering 300 million. This data, in relation to today, speaks of the need to urgently find solutions to the eradication of food insecurity and poverty with various dynamic and strategic policies, programmes etc. to bring about social and economic development that can be sustainable. However, there is a big problem to food security solutions from agriculture.
Another report shows that the average age today of a farmer in
Nigerian is between 55 and 60 years and by the year 2030 will rise to
between 75 and 80 years. The question that comes to mind is what
quantity of food can this old farmers produce for such a rising
population by the year 2030 and beyond?
Interestingly, these old farmers have all the experience, knowledge
and information (techniques) of Agriculture and not Agribusiness BUT the
truth of the matter is undeniable that the answer lies in the hands of
the young and vibrant Nigerian youths today. Nigerian youths are not
into agriculture and are not even going into it for various reasons.
Many value their certificate and ‘status’ in the community as university
graduates; they effortlessly search for white-collar jobs that are in
reality non-existent. They do not take agriculture as a business
(Agribusiness) that can generate profits like any other successful
business. They show little or no interest and view it as work for our
fore fathers and mothers in the village.
Interestingly,, though agriculture goes with the new technology of
the modern world, our elders can no longer match or comply with the
requirements of current trends and latest modern technological advances
in agriculture (mechanization, use of high yielding varieties,
application of inputs and weather forecast compliance). This scenario
leaves our young people, no better time to act than NOW to take their
place, drive the nation in a critical and dynamic area with the
knowledge of these technologies, more with their strength, agility and
dexterity needed in agriculture.
Skilled young people including agriculture graduates can play a major
role in providing services in the rural areas especially in the
agriculture sector, transforming the current subsistence agriculture
into an extensive and business oriented one with the food security
assured and rural development.
Nigeria today is faced with persisting hunger, civil unrest, armed
conflicts, poverty, and corruption. We the youths have inherited a poor
nation from our elders; a Nigeria though full of opportunities,
possibilities and diverse exploitable areas and talents especially in
non-oil exports but instead is plagued in poverty and hunger. A nation
where development and nation building have been totally dependent on oil
instead of agricultural & Agribusiness cum Green urban cities and
In a bid to handle these crises of food insecurity and climate
change, the agricultural sector has been receiving much attention from
the local, state & federal governments, not forgetting the
international community and other agriculture development partners. It
is now more pertinent than ever that resource, incentives and business
cum entrepreneur strategies are made available to increase the
participation of young people in the sector.
Activating the interest and capacities of young entrepreneurs with
investment and attractive policy and government support of private small
enterprises will drive the sector. Now is the time for youths to
develop themselves not as passive development actors but as aggressive
and active actors who can achieve a sustainable agricultural sector.
It would be an omission of reality if we do not address the
challenges faced by young people as it relates to their involvement in
agriculture and agribusiness. These include:
· High level of poverty and corruption, resulting in a desire for quick money.
Unfavorable government policies as it relate to land acquisition and
funding for agricultural purpose particularly for young agriculture
entrepreneurs or small private agribusiness farms.
· The large gap
between the mindset perception of success and opportunities of post
academics in white-collar jobs (Private & Public), business etc.
· Lack of access to proper information and orientation to accept agriculture as the new revenue stream.
· Inadequate infrastructures
· Lack of entrepreneurship possibilities, incentives & training among majority of youths
Even at that, there are examples of numerous young people in Nigeria
and other African countries in agriculture, which have success stories
that the sector is not really a challenge but an area untapped and due
In the next part, we shall look at practical and possible success
points to spur, encourage and drive interest in other youths. More so,
the private sector and government focus cum support in youth
participation. So keep a date with this page next week.
Written by Oluwatomi Olatoye
Tuesday, 12 June 2012