The Nigerian government has launched two initiatives to encourage young people to become more involved in agriculture, and stem the rising unemployment in the country.
The YEAP which is similar to the IITA Youth Agripreneur (IYA) model is designed to reposition the agricultural sector by involving, developing and raising 760,000 youths in agribusiness within the next five years.
FAFIN on the other hand is a financing vehicle targeting Nigeria’s small and medium enterprises in agriculture.
President Jonathan, stated that the program encompasses all the economic activities along the agricultural value chain, including commercial farming, processing, value addition, logistics, transport and marketing of value added agricultural produce.
Describing the agriculture sector as vital for the country’s growth, President Jonathan said the involvement of youths in the sector would rapidly boost the sector. He further stated that, with the program, young people would not only take agriculture as a way of life, but also as a viable source of generating income.
He said youths under the program would be known as Nagropreneurs, and added that he was confident that the agricultural sector would produce several young millionaires and billionaires in the country.
President Jonathan noted that the ageing population of farmers posed a significant threat to the agricultural sector, and said unless young farmers were developed, the nation’s food security would be compromised.
In order to change the negative perception about agriculture, the President emphasized the need to adopt mechanization in the sector.
According to him, his government plans to successfully attract young people into agriculture by replacing the hoes and cutlasses with modern farm machineries.
While shedding light on YEAP, the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, said the launch of the program was the birth of an idea that was conceived three years ago.
He said with the current fall in the price of crude oil, agriculture would now serve as a better option as the country’s source of revenue.
Presenting the success story in the sector, Dr Adesina revealed that food importation had reduced drastically.
His words, “food importation has reduced due to the effort being invested into local food production. In the last three years, we have produced over 21 million metric tons of food and I think that is quite encouraging. The country no longer needs to import food,” he said.
Ohanwusi Evelyn, who represented the IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) commended the initiatives saying that through agriculture, many youths would be employers of labour thereby reducing the scourge of unemployment in the society.
Another agripreneur, Mosunmola Umoru encouraged other youths to become actively engaged in agriculture.
A medical doctor turned farmer, Temitope Aroge who was at the event, also said that from experience, “farming is too interesting to be abandoned.”
Side events at the launch included exhibitions of agricultural produce ranging from snailery, horticulture, fishery, rice processing, palm fruits, bee keeping, leather works, and cassava processing among others.