…Nigeria cannot move forward until agric is fixed – Don
By Ibrahim HassanWuyo
Young Africa Works(YAW) and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), have began training of 30,000 young Nigerians on agribusiness in Lagos, Kaduna and Kano,.
Speaking on the occasion in Zaria Monday, the Executive Director, National Agricultural Extension Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), Professor Emmanuel Ikani, called for deliberate government policies to bring Nigerian youths into mechanized agriculture.
Prof. Ikani, who addressed the participants of the training, said that Nigeria cannot move forward until agriculture is fixed.
“Nigeria does not need 70 per cent of its population to be in agriculture before it feeds itself and export, but a sizeable number with the right skills and modern farming technology,” he said.
“Before independence, agriculture was the bedrock of our economy, with Cocoa from South, groundnut pyramid in the North and palmcanel, palmoil and rubber from the East and the economy was booming and was even the best in Africa. But, when we discovered oil, we ran into trouble and abandoned agriculture, we stopped putting our money where our mouth is, and that is why agriculture remains where it is today, hoe and cutlasses.”
“Today, we have over 70 per cent of our population, our adult force in agriculture. This is not only wrong, it is an indication that we are not doing things right; a job that, only five people should do, 75 people are doing it and we are still where we are. Elsewhere like in America, only about about four to five per cent of the population are into agriculture and they are feeding the nation and still exporting.”
“So, if we must get it right, we have to do agriculture as a business. We should not be doing agriculture with hoes and cutlasses at this age. This is the reason it becomes imperative to bring in the youths and train them the modern farming techniques, because this is the only way we can change the narrative, as youths have the tendencies of embracing new things unlike the old people who always want to insist on the traditional ways of doing things. If we do this, the country will be better for it,” he said.
Governments at all levels, he stressed, should ensure that their budget for agriculture trickles down to the main business of agriculture and adopt deliberate policies towards bringing youths into mechanized agricultural practices.
On the training project, Business Development Officer of Young Africa Works, AbdulSalam Muhammad Muhammad said the five years training programme sponsored by MasterCard, Young Africa Works and IITA, is designed to empower youths in the agric-business value chains, to enable them take opportunities in the agric food sector.
Muhammad said “youths constitute about 70 per cent of the population and mostly excluded in the opportunities that are bound in the country. Mist of these youths are unemployed and makes them vulnerable to social vices and other evils in the society, hence the need to engage them to take advantage of the opportunities and make meaningful lives for themselves.”
“The beneficiaries of the training would be coached on entrepreneurial skills, financial skills, practical farming training and mentorship on how to develop their business plan, as well as linkage with financial institutions,” he said.