“If improved, agriculture is the surest way of youth unemployment in Nigeria because government doesn’t have the capacity to provide employment to all our unemployed youth” – Bashir Aminu Sulaiman, Yariman Dutse
The challenge of youth unemployment is doubtlessly one of the greatest challenges facing Nigeria today. There is as high as 14.2% unemployment rate, according to the latest report of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), and this figure represents 28.58 million unemployed people (majority of who are youth).
Consequently, we are sitting on a time-bomb, unless something really drastic and urgent is done to arrest the menace. This is largely due the white-collar job seeking mentality of our youth against pursuing entrepreneurial carriers across various sectors of the economy including agriculture.
This is definitely not unconnected with the prism from which educated Nigerians view a farmer: as a hoe-wielding poor, illiterate, and disheveled person tilling the land under scorching sun or heavy rains. This negative perception of farming and agriculture as being the business of the poor and uneducated has over the years helped kept educated Nigerians away from the farm and agro-entrepreneurship.
Therefore, as Nigerian universities and other tertiary institutions continue to churn out graduates, the chances of getting those graduates into an employment are increasingly becoming slimmer. The recent introduction of entrepreneurship education courses in Nigerian tertiary institutions is not only timely but a right step in the right direction, for it is high time Nigerians are made to understand that acquiring a higher education is not a guarantee for getting an employment.
Instead of looking for employment after graduation, young Nigerians must instead now begin to think of becoming providers of employment themselves; agriculture through its wide range of value chains presents limitless opportunities in this regard. And agric entrepreneurship is a sure way to ending poverty, unemployment and achieving job and wealth creation and economic prosperity in Nigeria hence the need for massive sensitization of Nigerians on the derivable benefits in investment across the value chains of agribusiness.
The enormous investment and job creation opportunities could be found across the various agric value chains including seed production, breeding, fish farming, feed production, milling, value addition, exportation, agrochemicals, raw commodity supply, manufacturing etc. The list is endless and definitely investment across any of these values chains does not only yield huge profits to the investor but equally leads to job and wealth creation in the country.
Moreover, governments at all levels must come up with strategies aimed at ensuring a conducive atmosphere for Nigerians including young people to develop passion for agriculture and invest across its value chains. The recent step taken by the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) of posting youth corpers to farms across the country is a great move at ‘catching them young’. And the initiative taken by the Central Bank of Nigeria to sponsor the popularization of the Federal Government’s agriculture policy dubbed the Green Alternative is to ensure buy-in into the policy guidelines by every stakeholder cluster groups.
We, therefore, call on governments to begin to think of creating innovative agro-based programmes targeted at changing the perception of young Nigerians away from going into white-collar jobs after their graduation from various tertiary institutions of learning, into thinking about harnessing the boundless opportunities provided by agriculture across its value chains.
The government must do all that is necessary to make it easier for those interested in pursuing carriers in agro-entrepreneurship to do so. CBN is certainly lending its support to that direction.
Compiled by Moving Image Limited