Study Exposes Nigeria On Youth Involvement In Agriculture

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Youth agripreneurs on a field during land preparation

A study has unzipped the underbelly of the government of Nigeria in respect of the involvement of young people in agriculture.

While the study strongly calls for ‘’policies and interventions’’ that will ensure the involvement of youths in the sector, it also revealed that young people in the country involved in agriculture during the production season often take up non-farm jobs to ensure stable income during the off-season.

An expert with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Adewale Ogunmodede, says Nigeria’s agricultural value chain is slowly evolving with limited diversification in an environment that still undermines progress.

‘’This situation highlights the need for policies and interventions that will ensure that the youth are actively involved in agriculture all year round to achieve food security’’, he adds.

The IITA expert carried out a study to evaluate the impact of the N-power Agro programme on youth employment and income generation in some parts of rural Nigeria.

He did the research under the IITA-implemented Enhancing Capacity to Apply Research Evidence (CARE) in Policy for Youth Engagement in Agribusiness and Rural Economic Activities in Africa project, which is sponsored by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

 The study covered three states in Western Nigeria and explored the state of youth participation in agribusiness activities in rural areas.

Nigeria has the largest youth population in Africa, and yet multiple reports show that the average age of farmers in the country is between 50 and 60 years.

The government strategically targets young people to encourage their participation in agriculture and agribusiness because the declining agricultural production is diminishing the hope of attaining food security in the country by 2050.

Looking at the N-Power Agro programme, which promotes employment opportunities for youth in the agricultural sector, Ogunmodede explored the regional growth analysis of youth labour and employment trends in Nigeria.

He focused on the emergence of agribusinesses while evaluating the impact of the programme to generate income and create employment for the beneficiaries through their participation.

Despite attempts by the government to improve rural livelihood, provide employment, and ensure food security through agricultural development initiatives, most of these programmes have had little or no impact on the lives of the youth.

Corruption, inconsistency in policies, and an implementation approach that does not prioritise the grassroots are the main reasons for this failure.

For Ogunmodede, “it is crucial for policymakers to know that policies should target youth as partners and leaders in development. Policy development should be a collaborative intervention that will ensure youth are fully consulted and integrated into the decision-making process.”

The study also recommends that the government incorporates the beneficiaries of these initiatives as produce-suppliers to the home-grown school feeding program, and a policy development approach that involves the youth.

The IITA-CARE project is addressing youth unemployment and involvement in rural and non-rural economies by funding young researchers across Africa.

The resulting studies are the basis for policy briefs that are used to engage parliamentarians in Africa to ensure that effective policies are drafted to address these development areas.

Enhancing Capacity to Apply Research Evidence (CARE) in Policy for Youth Engagement in Agribusiness and Rural Economic Activities in Africa project seeks to enhance the understanding of the poverty reduction and employment impact, and the factors influencing youth engagement in agribusiness and rural farm and non-farm economy.

By doing so, significantly increase the evidence of how policies and investments can contribute to economic growth and the enabling environment for rural youth.

The CARE project is being conducted by IITA, an award-winning, research-for-development non-profit institution, with headquarters in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. It generates agricultural innovations to meet Africa’s most pressing challenges of hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and natural resource degradation.

The main aim of CARE is to enhance the understanding of the poverty reduction and employment impact, and the factors influencing youth engagement in agribusiness and rural farm and non-farm economy.

By doing so, significantly increase the evidence of how policies and investments can contribute to economic growth and the enabling environment for rural youth.

Objectives

Its key overall objective is to improve the availability, exchange, dissemination and use of research findings in the field of agribusiness and rural economic activities from young African scholars into policy and practice in support of economic growth and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, working at local, national and regional levels in Africa.

As part of CARE’s objectives, it is working on the following areas:

Strengthen the capacity of young African scholars in generating, appraising and disseminating evidence-based results to inform future action plans for national governments, the international community, the business sector and local communities;

Increase the availability and use of evidence for youth policies and decision-making related to youth participation in the rural sector; and

Strengthen the ability of key stakeholders to better use an evidence-based approach in youth economic empowerment in policy development.

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