Stakeholders have called for deliberate efforts to involve the youth in agriculture, for economic growth, food security, to reduce unemployment and other social vices.
Speaking in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja they urged government at all levels to invest in agriculture programmes that were youth oriented.
Mr Samuel Igwe, Managing Director of Samchi Agro Consults, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that agriculture offered the young generation a chance to make a difference by growing enough food to feed the world.
According to him, there is an urgent need for the Nigerian youth to embrace agriculture in order to improve food production for the teeming population of the country currently estimated at 200 million.
”Due to the increasing population, over time the country is experiencing shortage of food supply, not forgetting that the agriculture sector has been neglected for a long period of time.
”There is a lot of concern about engaging youths in agriculture, in many ways, young people are not very much interested in continuing in agriculture because they don’t see much prospect in the future of agriculture.
”They don’t see it as a profession in the long-run, so many of the small holder farmers are now quite old.
”Increasing the involvement of young persons in agriculture activities will help reduce the problems of the aging farming population and unemployment in the country, ” he said.
He said that there was need for the government to introduce more incentive schemes for the youth, especially members of NYSC, to go into farming.
”If a good number of corps members can get into agriculture, there will be food security, unemployment will decline, industries will spring up to process raw materials and the export rate will increase,” he said.
“I have trained 150 corps members online, on farming with organic products instead of synthetic.”
“A lot of corps members go into agriculture after their youth service because they all had background information about agriculture. The major issue is capital.”
”This is were government comes in, to provide the corps members and other young people with interest in agriculture with proper incentives to encourage them,” he said.
Igwe said that the Federal Government agriculture scheme was to encourage the youth as well as boost the economy and the export rate of the country.
He said that the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED), created in 2012 was also targeted at the youth.
Igwe said that corps members were being trained in various skills, to reduce the challenges of unemployment in the country.
”Agro allied is one of the training schemes under the SAED programme that teaches the corps members agriculture and how to make wealth by engaging in agriculture.
“Most things taught in camp are theoretical, a good number of corps member attended the agro-allied Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) training in camp, having a lot of knowledge about agriculture does not translate into wealth”.
“Through this programme, youths are now willing to go into agriculture, neglecting white-collar jobs.”
Mr Tobi Adelugba, a youth corps member, who attended the agro allied training at Kubwa, Abuja, said he has always been interested in some aspects of agriculture, adding that he had learnt a lot from the training.
“If a good number of corps members can get into agriculture, there will be food security, unemployment will decline, industries will spring up to process raw materials and the export rate will increase,” he said.
He said, for agriculture to improve the economy, the government should be more intentional about improving agriculture in all forms.
“More sensitisation needs to be done because most people do not know the opportunity that comes with agricultural businesses, beneficiaries testimonies should also be taken, to let people know it is not a facade.
Another youth corps member, Opeyemi Alabi, said NYSC should not force the training on people but should ask if the youth corps members were interested.
“A few corps members see the training as just one of the regular programmes that corps members have to attend.
”They should make the youth see reason for the training.
Mr Jojolola Isaac, also a corps member, said the scheme would benefit a lot of Nigerian youths, as the country was gradually diversifying from oil and gas to the agriculture sector.
“If a lot of youths can take agriculture serious, there will be more than enough jobs created, and the country will progress”.
“I will rather go into agriculture if provided with the funds, than settle for white collar job,” he said.
He added that NYSC had started achieving the Federal Government’s objective of creating the scheme, by encouraging youths to look into the agriculture sector. (NAN)