Diesel-filled, the tractor stands under a blue sky, atop a soil brown to the core of it, staring at a 20-hectare field pregnant with the promise of emancipation of a youth force fettering into destitution by the sheer strength of its multitude.
In NBS’ third quarter report of 2018, unemployed Nigerians were a staggering 20.9 million persons and unemployment rate was 23.1%. The economically active age or working age according to the NBS is people between the ages of 15 and 64 years. The number of people within this demographic description rose from 112 million to 115.5 million persons in about a year.
Beyond the rhetoric of powerplay and politics, there are young men and women out there, somewhere in Nigeria, everywhere in Nigeria who have a genuine and dire need for employment. For them, political party affiliation is unimportant, all they want is a job in order to perpetuate their existence and perhaps fuel an aspiration that keeps them up at midnight.
There are several sectors in Nigeria that can be developed in order to absorb the massive number of unemployed demography. Agriculture, however, has a greater potential of reducing unemployment in Nigeria. This is because the sector provides some form of unemployment to over 70% of Nigeria’s population. Its expansive value chain and the new demand of Nigerians for exotic products especially Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) make the sector the perfect employment source.
One way to make the agricultural sector employable is by improving the productivity potential of the sector on a per hectare basis. Currently, productivity is about 2 ton per hectare. Agricultural mechanization in Nigeria can revolutionize the productivity narrative of the agriculture sector. Youth involvement in mechanization is pertinent as they have the vigour, the creativity and the drive to headline the development of the agricultural sector through mechanization.
At Seed & Mech Hubs, we offer affordable mechanization services and which every youth out there with access to Mobile can connect with us directly requesting for services via our mobile App “Farmers Bridge
With mechanization young men and women can horn entrepreneurial skills and establish fully mechanized aggregated farms of up to 10 hectares and more without the demotivation of drudgery and hardship but with the extra incentive of higher productivity and therefore higher incomes. Mechanization goes beyond mere ‘tractorization’, it encompasses machine devices that include planters, combined harvesters, shelling machines, bagging machines, winnowers and other machines depending on which crop the youth decides to base their enterprises upon.
With advances in technology, gender-sensitive machines can be developed to aid young women in also enjoying the benefits of mechanization. Mechanization goes beyond production into the processing phase and even into complex areas of value addition across the supply chain of crops. Young men and women can do and cover immense ground given the right technologies and the opportunity to capacitate them to absorb the millions of unemployed youths walking the streets of Nigeria.
Mechanization does have a place in other subsectors of agriculture as well. For instance, there is a fully mechanized and absolutely computerized poultry farm in Jere, Kaduna. The farm owner can control heat, nitrogen levels and ventilation of the farm from the comfort of his California king bed. The farm produces a hundred thousand eggs per day and employs tons of young people through its massive supply chain. Unemployed youths are worth the total population of four African countries, fertility rate in Nigeria is higher the 16 countries of the EU. There is no way the government can employ the plethora of graduates that pour out of institutions yearly. Modest projections put figures at 4 million more youths than available jobs annually. Agriculture is a solution – smart, precision agriculture, fully mechaniz