Tudun Wada (Nasarawa State) – Youths in agriculture have called on all tiers of government and other stakeholders to acknowledge the contributions of youths in food production like their counterparts in the entertainment industry.
They spoke on Wednesday on the sidelines of the 9th Annual Agric Show organised by the National Agricultural Foundation of Nigeria (NAFN) in Tudun Wada, Abuja – Keffi Road, Nasarawa State.
Ms Nkiruka Nnaemego, a farmer and founder of the Fresh & Young Brains Development Initiative, said the agriculture sector has the potential to provide employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for the unemployed.
She said the youth constitute a good portion of the Nigerian population and a vast majority of youths are small-holder farmers found mostly in rural and semi-rural areas.
She quoted the British Council Report of 2010 to have stated that “Youth, not Oil, will be the country’s most valuable resource by 2030.“
“Interestingly, our society seems to celebrate youth in sports, media and entertainment while paying little attention to youth in agriculture and informal sectors.
“Compared to incentives for young celebrities, youth in agriculture often get less than 10 per cent of such incentives.
“For instance, an entertainer gets as much as N10 million for an hour performance on stage while a youth in agriculture gets a laptop.
“The youth in agriculture has to submit project proposals and business plans and pray to be shortlisted from a list over 100,000 youth applying for same grant that is meant to create more jobs and benefit many members of the society,“ she said.
She said in spite of the youth bulge, high rate of youth unemployment and restiveness, efforts and programmes targeted at the youth are very minimal and have little impact on the young ones.
Nnaemego said the Nigerian youths on their part were making agriculture trendy in order to encourage other youths to participate.
She said current youth trends in agriculture include, research and documentation, policy advocacy, capacity building, technology transfer, knowledge and innovation platforms.
Other areas include best practices and exchange programmes, advisory and technical support services to Government, agricultural education and extension services, agribusiness incubators among others.
Nnaemego said though Agriculture accounts for a huge percentage of Nigeria’s GDP and employs a good part of the population, the sector currently has very few incentives and programmes directly targeting youths in agriculture.
She said issues facing youths in agriculture are access to land, information, farm inputs, finance, climate smart technology, mentoring and market among others.
According to her, in spite of the above challenges, credit must be given to Government and her partners for the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP), Business Innovation Growth (BIG), YES Programme, among others.
Also speaking, Mr Zekeri Momoh, a young farmers and Manager, Deenat Integrated Farms, urged youths to take advantage of government promises to turn the sector around.
He said youths in the past had been used and dumped by political leaders for several reasons, saying that they would benefit tremendously if they engage in agriculture.
Momoh commended the organisers of the show for making youth-related issues the centre of the 9th edition.
He urged big companies in the country to use youths in agriculture for adverts and as ambassadors of the nation.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Agric Show is an exhibition event organised by NAFN to enable farmers showcase their produce, interact and share their challenges.
The show with the theme: “Engaging the Nigerian Youth in Agriculture “ will end on Thursday, April 7. (NAN)