The Journalism Communication and Media Centre, a non-governmental organisation, says disregard for agriculture by Nigerian youth is a major challenge negating the attainment of food security and zero hunger by 2030.
Founder of the organisation, Obinna Chukwuezie, told the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja that government at all levels must make deliberate efforts to make agriculture more attractive to youth.
While stressing the need to modernise agricultural practices, Chukwuezie emphasised that increased engagement of the youth in the agricultural sector will guarantee food sufficiency in the country.
He, however, expressed concern that a large population of the Nigerian youth has abandoned agriculture for other endeavours.
According to him, youth engagement in agriculture is still very low in Nigeria as many people are running after white collar jobs.
Chukwuezie blamed the lack of interest in agriculture on increased migration from rural to urban areas, noting that the agricultural sector suffered terrific neglect despite its potential to lift many out of poverty.
“In his speech to mark Nigeria’s 60th anniversary, President Muhammadu Buhari talked about Nigerian urban dwellers currently standing at 52 per cent. That shows that there is a lot of migration from the rural areas to the urban centres and the truth is that those involved are mostly youth leaving agriculture for white collar jobs. “Even the ones who are remaining in the villages have taken to commercial motorcycling (okada), believing that it will give them big money.
“It is a very big challenge that our farmers who are producing food for us are aging and no young ones are taking over from them. So, it is a big challenge for attaining food security and zero hunger by 2030.
“There is the need for deliberate efforts to get young people involved in agriculture by making it look beneficial to them and we need to get into mechanisation because using knife and hoe the way our fathers did scares young people.
“They don’t want to do it; they are looking at mordernised agriculture and that is one way young people can get involved.
“Once they see mordernised, mechanised and digitised system, they will embrace it because they don’t want to use the hoe; they want to drive a tractor to till the land,’’ he said.
Chukwuezie also harped on the need to expose young people to agricultural value chain to harness the potential therein.
According to him, young people think of only one aspect of agriculture which is production and which actually starts from tilling the ground, but every crop has its value chain and every livestock has its value chain too.
“For instance, you have cassava and there are those who actually plant it in the soil and wait for the time to harvest.
“And there are those who run cassava mills called the processors and they are all agribusiness practitioners and there are those who use it to make garri and there are those who use the starch from it to make bread. “There are so many other things that it can be used for so what we are saying is to expose the chain in agriculture to young people so that they can get involved in the jobs in the value chain.
“If you are not into production you can be in processing and there is more money in processing, there is money in value addition, transportation and marketing so there is a lot of jobs in the value chain.
“Young people can become actors and drive the process,’’ Chukwuezie said.
He further appealed to the Federal Government and various state governments to provide adequate funding to encourage youth engagement in agribusiness.
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