Growing an agro-oriented generation
There seems to be a new vigour to invest in agriculture and at a forum held last week, African leaders, businesses and major development partners have pledged 30 billion dollars in investments to increase production, income and employment for smallholder farmers and local African agriculture businesses over the next ten years. Different African countries, businesses, donor agencies were there including representatives from Nigeria.
Although these funds have been pledged to countries, these countries need to come to those organizations with viable plans. For Nigeria however, we should look at a focused and well thought out plan like the key commodities with the largest potential for job creation impact. We should look in terms of commodities that are planted over the largest hectares and have the largest market potential in Nigeria.
From the latest GDP report released by the National bureau of statistics, agriculture grew strongly by 4.53% and this is an indication that this sector can be a reliable revenue stream for a country like Nigeria seeking to diversify its revenue sources. Given this, there is a need to engage and empower small holder farmers to take advantage of technology to improve on the quantity of their produce. As much as technology and mechanization are critical parts of the equation, one of the key components is gaining access to finance and capital which the farmers need to take advantage of the available technology. Unlocking value for small holder farmers include assisting them with credit, training, input and access to the market they need to increase their net income on average is of major importance to small holder farmers.
For a country like Nigeria where about 80 million youths will be entering the workforce in the next twenty years, we should begin to get serious about job creation and recognizing agriculture a major job creation engine. Apart from just marketing an idea to someone, first demonstrating the value of that idea is key. I think that we are gradually beginning to see the value of agriculture in Nigeria or are some Nigerian youths waiting for the wave of a magic wand to change their mind-set?
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