Stakeholders have called on federal and state governments in Nigeria to do more to attract young people into the country’s agricultural sector.
They made the call on Tuesday while speaking at the Policy Delivery Plenary of the Feed Nigeria Summit 2020 held at the Ladi Kwali Conference Centre, Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja.
The Feed Nigeria Summit, hosted annually by AgroNigeria, is famed as Nigeria’s foremost agricultural sector convocation aimed at catalyzing transformational progress for the country’s agriculture.
This year’s edition of the Summit, which was themed: Agribusiness: Leading Nigeria’s Recovery, was held on Tuesday and Wednesday, December 1st and 2nd, 2020.
The plenary, with the theme: Job: Mechanisation, Research and Extension to the Rescue, was moderated by the new Executive Director of the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Prof. Emmanuel Ikani.
Speaking during the plenary, Ogun State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Adeola Odedina, observed that the renewed focus on agriculture and exporting offers job creation opportunities for young people.
“Nigeria should prepare the youths for the new jobs that come with modernised agricultural practices across all of the value chains. We need people who can fit into these jobs. There are jobs in cassava, methanol, sugarcane production, among others.
“Young Nigerians are very smart; show them where the money is and they will follow,” Odedina said.
Also speaking, the Country Director (Nigeria), Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Dr Rose Giddado, advocated for increased adoption of technologies to attract young people into the sector.
She also called on Nigeria to build up its technology use to fight drought, insect and pests through the adoption of climate-smart and high-yielding seeds.
“Without investment in research, development and technology, we cannot improve our productivity. Also, rural infrastructure and other basic amenities like electricity must be provided,” she added.
On his part, the Director of the NextGen Cassava Project of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture/ the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike, Prof. Chiedozie Egesi, pointed out that youths need to see the profitability of agriculture “demonstrated and working”.
Egesi explained, “We must take the participatory approach in fostering the use of technology in our agriculture, and more importantly, consider the youths in the decision making.
“We need to also make the agricultural environment conducive. Agricultural research universities and agricultural engineers have to improve their knowledge and ability to bridge the gaps in the sector.
“We must realise that a lot of women are into agriculture and therefore must be mainstreamed into the plan.”