Study links right policies to sustainable agric
A study undertaken by IITA and the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) has shown that livelihoods of youths in rural areas can be enhanced through agricultural policies in Nigeria.
This was stated in a “Policy Brief,” entitled “Beyond Survival Opportunities: Enhancing Youth Livelihoods within the Rural Space through Informed Policies in Nigeria,” based on their research in Nigeria that was led by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in the UK.
The research, which was conducted between 2018 and 2019 in seven African countries, including Nigeria, shows that young people in rural areas continue to maintain engagement with agriculture and this does not therefore support the idea that they have turned their back on agriculture.
In Nigeria the research was carried out in the Oba-Oke and Idi-Amu communities in Osun State and the Umumbo and Igbariam communities in Anambra State.
Notable conclusions from the research were that in Nigeria, there is enough affection among the rural youth for agriculture and for many, it is consistently part of their present livelihood option and imagined future.
The study identified that one challenge is that the current mode of agricultural production, which involves a lot of hard work with relatively low reward, is not profitable and rural young people actively combine work in agriculture with other non-farm self and or wage employment and domestic work.
With regards to gender, there is widespread involvement of male youths in farming while females feature more in supportive agricultural value chain roles and non-agricultural roles, thus showing that they (females) are seriously hampered in realizing their aspirations because of assumed unpaid roles as caretakers.
It is, therefore, wrong to conceive of or label these young people simply as ‘farmers or even primarily farmers.’ While some of them admitted a deep attachment to farming, for others, it is perhaps the only choice to achieve food security, earn some income and forge a potential path to raising a family.
The Policy Brief’s authors, comprising Olamide Olaosebikan, Béla Teeken, Abolore Bello (all of IITA), Benjamin Okoye and Tessy Madu (both of NRCRI), Barbara Crossouard (of University of Sussex UK) and Jim Sumberg (IDS UK) further reported that currently, these livelihoods are challenged by/being built under severe and persistent constraints due to infrastructural deprivation, taxation/levies on agricultural produce, limited access to productive resources and seasonal nature of economic activities, creating instability, diverse risks, limited financial reward and lack of protection, which are not specific to youths only but to most of the rural population.
Despite these challenges, access to land within the rural space remains the assuring asset partly stable for rural youth engagement in agriculture, while other opportunities like training on how to access soft loans from the government do not reach the intended youths.
Importantly, the authors posit that “rural youth livelihoods are clearly enhanced through social networks of community leaders and influential persons who provide guidance and financial and inputs support.”