NAERLS advocates youth participation in agriculture
Executive Director, National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), Prof. Mohammed Khalid Othman, has said improved rural infrastructure and diversification of production leading to improved livelihood will enable Nigerian youths to participate in agriculture development.
According to him, agricultural research fosters sustained development of smallholder agriculture and income generation with improved productivity marketing and processing, which provides food security, reduction in post-harvest losses, and value addition.
He said organising youths for increased access to resources and services while empowering them through training and skills development will encourage youth in participating in agriculture.
Othman spoke at the launch of a new agriculture-focused reality television show, tagged: ‘The Farmhouse’, in Lagos.
Represented by Dr Yusuf Abdullahi of the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), he said to perform its expected role of empowering the youth, the Agric research and extension system has to undergo a transformation.
He said partnerships and collaboration are needed across actors, departments and ministries, while extension professionals engaging with the youth must not only learn/acquire communication skills but must also have a good understanding of group dynamics.
However the Farmhouse initiative is aimed at creating opportunity in the agricultural sector for young Nigerian graduates.
In the programme initiated by Adventium Global Development, selected unemployed and under-employed participants (house mates) from all over Nigeria will be camped in an integrated farm for 90 days.
The promoter of the initiative, Isaac Oghogho, explained that it would introduce the opportunities and potential in the agricultural sector to the young generation of Nigerians with the aim of gradually reducing the ageing population of farmers in the cou ntry.
He said the programme would deploy entertainment as a channel for interacting with the youths.
“The farmhouse is a youth empowerment project that is anchored on fixing a social deficiency in our country through job creation, empowerment and entrepreneurship in commercial agriculture.”
According to Oghogho, the programme tagged: ‘Let’s make Nigeria green again’, will expose participants to modern agricultural techniques and technologies.
He said participants would learn about writing business plans and feasibility studies for agricultural investment, adding that each housemate would be assigned 20 unemployed youths as direct trainees.
Oghogho said: “At the end of the first year of the FHS, a total of 1,050 Nigerian youths will be involved in agriculture across the country. These additional 1,000 direct trainees will equally be assigned 20 indirect trainees each at the end of their second year (that is year three).
“Overall, at the end of year five, a total of 65,250 Nigerians will become entrepreneurs or employees in agriculture while cultivating approximately 50,000 hectares of land across a minimum of 10 states in Nigeria (5,000ha/state).”
Another promoter, Gloria Sambo, said the selection process would start from online registration, audition of participants across five cities, and eventual camping of successful participants in the farmhouse.
She said the participants would be exposed to the various areas of agriculture including food and cash crops as well as animal husbandry and aquaculture.
“Qualified applicants will equally be exposed to the various government incentives and funding programmes for agriculture in Nigeria,” she added.