There is a radical shift in the Nigeria agriculture sector today, with the assumption of duty by a dynamic, visionary and highly experienced agriculturist and fine gentle man as the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The sector has been over hauled, the areas of dislocations has been identified and in fixing the broken links, he has adopted the Value Chain Approach that promotes the sector from a primitive developmental vocation meant for the rural peasant entrapped in a vicious cycle of poverty to a lucrative agribusiness enterprise that can take millions of unemployed youths off the street.
Dr. Adesina was not ashamed to announce to the world Nigeria’s challenges in terms of food production as a nation. It was reported that Nigeria spent N98, 000,000,000,000 on food importation between 2007- 2010. This amount, which is about 23 times our national annual budget, was spent importing food products that can readily be produced in Nigeria such as Fish, Wheat, Rice, Sugar, and Tomato among several others.
From River Benue to River Niger down to the confluence of Lokoja in Kogi was not considered enough blessings from God to be explored for Fish production, while the N97, 000,000,000 spent on fish importation within those years be alternatively used to empower our jobless youths to produce same fish with a view to reducing unemployment and restive activities.
We have 84 million hectare of arable land yet only about 40% is been cultivated but our youths seem not to know the gap that exist which could reward their participation. The Agriculture Ministry has put in place innovative solutions to addressing our unemployment and food security challenges. But are Nigerian youths aware of the goldmine Dr. Adesina Akinwumi has hidden in the Agricultural sector today?
Four major problems among several others accounted largely for youth’s lack of interest in Agriculture, namely:
- Drudgery in farm operations.
- Lack of start-up capital for the youths.
- Lack of competitive market for Agricultural products.
- Lack of Buy Back Scheme (BBC) from the Government.
However, the ATA team is working very hard to address all these problems through Government Initiatives that are mostly Private sector driven but Government enabled. Some of the programmes include:
- The Private Sector Driven Agricultural Mechanization Programme, (PSDAMP).
- Staple Crops Processing Zones (SCPZs).
- One Stop Agro-Centre (OSAC).
- Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP).
- Growth Enhancement Support (GES) Scheme.
- Nigeria Incentive Based Risk sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).
- Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP) • FADAMA III.
- National Programme for Food Security (NPFS).
- Private sector Driven Commodity Marketing Corporation.
While wanting Government initiate awareness programmes to properly sensitize Nigerians on these programmes, YISA in complementing the efforts of the Government, has Embarked on Youth Agricultural Re-orientation workshop to educate Nigerian youths that Agriculture is pure business; it plays a critical role in the National food and social security, and holds a lot of prospects for Business oriented individuals who can seize the opportunities created by some of the programmes mentioned above to better their lots.
YISA do not merely encourage youth to take up Agriculture as business but creates a platform for active participation through the organization’s Youth Collaborative Community Agriculture Programme (YOCCAP) and has organize this Sensitization Programme in Abuja, Delta, Anambra and Benue State. Check www.fmard.org for more details on Government Agricultural Programmes.