By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA- THE Arewa Young Farmers Initiative, AYFI, has urged Federal and State governments to aggressively engage youth in agricultural development, in order to drastically reduce terrorism, restiveness, and other social vices in the country.
President, AYFI, Comr. Salisu Suleiman, during a press conference held in Abuja, on the maiden ‘Arewa Young Farmers’ Agribusiness Summit’, said Nigeria can provide jobs for its over 100 million youth as well end food importation.
” The summit has been designed to engage government on how to tap and harness the strength and talent of young people for agribusiness as 20 delegates each from the 36 states and FCT will be at the summit and led by their various State Commissioners of Agriculture, where the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh will address participants together with Senate Committee Chairman on Agriculture, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu and other legislators, while President, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, will speak from the private sector view on agriculture.”
“With the 177 million people in Nigeria, which 100 million are youths, and being endowed with several bodies of water, which include Rivers Benue and Niger, hundreds of dams, and lakes, is grappling with food importation and youth unemployment.
“The country which has 60 percent of unutilised arable land and irrigation potentials, can feed the whole of Africa if the youths are given the support they need and government at all levels wakes up to its responsibility.
“The forthcoming maiden Arewa Young Farmers’ Agribusiness Summit, which is the first ever agric summit specifically designed to bring all young farmers in Nigeria together to brainstorm on the way forward to attracting our young minds into the agricultural sector.
“This conference therefore, is a response to the growing challenges facing the youth. Previous governments have done very little to attract the youth into agriculture. This is because of lack of access to mechanisation, processing, credit facilities and land, makes the sector unattractive to youths.”
He also cautioned government not to allow the youth to be left to themselves and become harmful to national growth and development, rather should engage them meaningfully before them become thorn in the flesh.
“Any nation that places so much idle time in the hands of the youth is courting disaster with a dark horse. These youths have the energy, the ideas to drive the sector, but most of them don’t have what it takes to go into agriculture, and because they are not constructively engaged in the economy”, he stated.
However, the group acknowledged and highlighted current policies driven by the Buhari administration in the sector to facilitate youth engagement in agriculture, which were the proposed 20 hectare agro-industrial parks for youth, development and allocation of arable land to interested youth, empowerment of 20, 000 young school leavers in the 36 States and FCT, and also empowerment of 18, 500 university graduates under the Youth Empowerment in Agriculture Programme, YEAP.