It is indeed my privilege and honour to present this address in this workshop titled Agripreneurial and Business Management Training.
- We are all aware of the high youth unemployment situation in this country, like in other nations worldwide, and its consequences on our socio-economic well-being, which fortunately the Transformation Agenda of Mr. President (Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan) is addressing aggressively through the various interventions in different sectors of the economy. Nigeria is an agrarian economy and the fact that for years the country has not given agriculture the right attention due in part to over reliance on oil, is partly at the root of the unemployment problem. To put Nigeria on the right trajectory, the Transformation Agenda has unequivocally recognized agriculture as the sector with the biggest potential for mass job creation and the most viable for poverty alleviation among both graduated and rural youth as well as women.
- In 2011 and in recognition of this fact, Mr. President (Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan ) directed that the Agricultural Transformation Agenda, in addition to food and nutritional security, focus on massive job creation for the youth. Accordingly, my Ministry (FMARD) under technical assistance of UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and consultation with youth and other stakeholders, designed and developed the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP). This was followed by its approval by the National Agricultural Council in 2013 and official launching during the 2013 Economic Summit by Mr. President (Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan). The presentation and discussion at these forums was to garner support from all stakeholders, to underscore the importance of issue of youth empowerment in the country and to serve as an advocacy tool for all to contribute to the realisation of Mr. President’s vision on youth empowerment for our dear country Nigeria.
- Nigeria is reported to have about 67 million youth, 50% of which were unemployed in 20t1. This was more than double that of Ghana at 25.6% and the national average at 23,9% in 2011, which unfortunately has also been growing by 16% annually since 2007.
The 1991 census recorded 88 million people as the population of Nigeria, which doubled by 20 years later to 165 million people. This means that 50% of Nigeria’s population, or approximately 80 million Nigerians, were born in the last 20 years. This population explosion has had a dramatically negative effect on youth employment as an ever-increasing number of youth enter the workforce, with limited prospect for employment. There are simply not enough jobs to keep up with the growing youth population.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, with our natural endowment for agriculture as you are all aware, Mr. President (Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan) has made it a cardinal pillar in his Transformation policies to address gender inequalities in Nigeria, because with 49% of Nigeria’s population being women, it is smarter economics to address the issue of women empowerment in all our policies and programmes. There are enormous opportunities in the sector for employment and wealth creation for our teeming youth population. Therefore, Agripreneural and Business Management training will be the vehicle that will properly situate our youth – both males and females to seize these opportunities for self-realisation and employment generati on.
- Agripreneural and Business Management training, ladies and gentlemen, will provide this nation with the vehicle to change the fortunes of our teeming youth population and by extension the nation. However it requires a collaborative approach and contributions of all from the public to private, civil societies and donor communities to attain the level of success it is capable of delivering. Specifically, I wish to appeal to high net worth individuals, political office holders and the corporate world to channel a large chunk of your Corporate Social Responsibility budgets to upscale or contribute to youth employment in agriculture through support to enabling environment, patient capital windows, revitalization of our extension systems, provision of social safety nets, increase access to productive resources for youth and women especially in the rural areas. These measures will enable our youth and women to unlock and access the employment generation potentials of the sector and set Nigeria on the way to industrialization.
- Finally, I want to thank the Management of EKIMIKS NIG. LTD for organizing this event in partnership with IITA.
I would like to use this opportunity to appeal to all our corporate bodies to emulate EKIMIKS NIG. LTD in the nation’s quest to provide a sustainable solution to youth unemployment in Nigeria.
I want to personally acknowledge the immense contribution of the DG IITA (Dr. Nteranya Sanginga) for the youth in Agriculture Initiative that started under his leadership.
Thank you all for your attention.