Friday, 21 September 2012

FG designs initiative to lure youths into agriculture

The Federal Government is designing an initiative to create a new generation of young commercial farmers that will help transform the agriculture sector and guarantee food sufficiency for the nation now and well into the future. 
The initiative with which government intends to create up to one million jobs by 2015 is called the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP) while the participating youths will be known as ‘Nagroprenuers’.

The minister of agriculture, Akinwunmi Adesina, said yesterday in Abuja that the programme will encourage many Nigerian youths to embrace agriculture as a business and be able to eke out a living and be lifted out of poverty status.

Adesina said the initiative which is a major part of the agricultural recovery and growth programme for Nigeria being implemented by his ministry was borne out of the passion to create more jobs for young people and especially due to strong concerns that the current generation of farmers is ageing rapidly.

At the YEAP workshop that had many youths in attendance, the minister repeatedly said that agriculture is being repositioned to transform the economic prospects of the nation because no sector has greater capacity to create jobs as quickly and sustainably as the sector.

“The agriculture sector is already large contributing over 40 percent of GDP and 70 percent of all employment. It has an unprecedented potential for growth. No nation has succeeded in driving sustainable economic development without fixing its agricultural sector. The evidence is all around us - China, India, Vietnam, Thailand are today big players in the world economy through transforming their agriculture,” he stressed.

Nigeria’s agriculture sector which was once vibrant is seemingly at its lowest ebb due to long years of neglect. The government has, however, planned to revive the industry with its transformation action plan which hopes to generate about 3.5 million jobs and push the country back into food sufficiency.

At the event, the minister explained that the government’s vision is to move Nigeria into becoming an agriculturally industrialised economy, to create wealth, jobs and markets for farmers, and revive the rural economy. He maintained that the plan is to grow the size of the sector from the present $99 billion per year to about $300 billion by year 2030.

“We are turning Nigeria into a breadbasket and a power house for food production. That is why we made a fundamental paradigm shift in how we look at agriculture. Today, agriculture is being treated as a business, no longer as a development programme. We are also focusing on private sector driven investments to unlock the potential of the sector. All these will serve to attract the young people into agriculture. There is lot of money to be made in agriculture,” he told the youths.

Adesina noted that to be competitive in today’s global agricultural markets, with changing technologies, demands for quality and standards, there is need to change the labour composition of Nigeria’s agricultural sector.

While encouraging the youths to embrace agriculture, he said that the sector requires new skills, younger people and more entrepreneurial farmers, who will be able to compete at the global scale, well vast in business, to be able to run sound agribusinesses that will make Nigeria’s agriculture modern, commercial and profitable.
Original Article Here

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