Youth in Agric, Biggest Potential for Mass Job Creation (

Over the years, getting youths in Nigeria to engage in agriculture has been an uphill task. The reasons are obvious. Farming, as it is practised in the country, has not been seen as an attractive venture, just as the condition of those who engage it has been most discouraging.
However, the tide is changing. It has become obvious that the youths must be given a pride of place if Nigeria and Africa want to create business opportunities for the unemployed in the agricultural sector.
This was the focus of a recent meeting at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
At the three-day business training for young entrepreneurs in agriculture, South West Regional Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Dr Lekan Quadri, who stood in for the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, made inferences to the links between youth unemployment and the opportunities of an agrarian economy, which he said, could provide the biggest potential for mass job creation.
More than 60 youth from six countries across Africa attended the business training aimed at empowering Agripreneurs on Agripreneural and Business Management.
Speaking on the day, Quadri praised the immense contribution of the Director General of IITA for the youth-in-agriculture initiative that started under his leadership.
IITA Director General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, had started the IITA Youth Agripreneurs, a landmark programme that provides youth from diverse disciplines training and opportunities to engage in agricultural business or entrepreneurship.
During the opening programme, he invited participants to proactively seek synergies for answering needs in the development of youth and agriculture.
He said: “The African Development Bank has declared a big interest in partnership engagement for youth and agriculture, the reason why I call upon you for your ideas and support.”
He emphasised that he does not see a development in Africa without unemployed youth engaging in agriculture.
Sanginga further explained that inclusive growth of the continent could be achieved through the joint implementation of mechanisms in agribusiness, which would work for both farmers and consumers.
“A young ‘agripreneur’ coming from a communication background is working with fish now. First, you might think communication and fish where is the link?… But when you start understanding how sales figures of fish products can increase throughout value chains by involving young people coming from different sectors, such as communication or marketing, it might become an eye-opener for you in engaging in new partnership opportunities.”
Former Registrar, University of Ibadan, Moji Ladipo, who spoke on the importance of being prepared for opportunities, encouraged the young Africans to be passionate about what they do.
Similarly, Chief Executive Officer of Ekimiks Nigeria Limited and sponsor of the workshop, Ekiyor Miriki, said the programme was designed to not only create opportunities, but to also help young people exit the unemployment cycle.
“With the business survival rate being less than 50 per cent, a business in agriculture is even more demanding due to the economics involved in the process,” he stated.
Responding to these challenges, the IITA-established Youth Agripreneurs scheme is piloting an approach that consists of young women and men focusing on promoting agriculture among other young people, through training and demonstration on agricultural best practices and the value chain in Nigeria.
The scheme also supports initiatives in Tanzania, DR Congo, Zambia, Kenya, and Mozambique.
Source: Business