Youth are catalysts of change in any society and involving the youth in agriculture can be a powerful way to promote healthy societies, make them financially independent and great contributors to the food system. However, a closer look at the level of youth’s involvement in the agricultural sector in Nigeria will reveal a less than average figure even with the increasing rate of unemployment in the country.
Whenever farming or agriculture is mentioned to most youth, the response is one that is disheartening and this is not because farming cannot be classified as a noble profession to delve into or a profitable sector to key into, but it is because of the many constraints they face, some of which can be solved if taken serious.
The first of these constraints is lack of interest as a result of the hard work associated with farming. In the rural areas, youth are not willing to participate in farming because of the hard labor involved especially with the use of crude tools. As a result of this, they migrate to the urban centers to seek employment in other sectors and leave the farm operations to the old ones who try so much but cannot generate the desired output.
Also, there id limited financial assistance (lack of funds). For youths who take interests in forging ahead in the agricultural sector, they are faced with the challenge of funds to start up, buy improved seedlings, mechanized tools and other facilities that will ease the stress of farming. Many a times, they are not able to obtain credit facilities from financial institutions because they do not have the collateral required of them and without the encouragement and financial support, the outcome will continue to remain low.
For us to be able to gain traction with the younger generation, agriculture should be presented to them in a way that is appealing, stories of youth already involved in the sector should be told so that others will be able to connect with their achievements. In addition, technologies and innovations should be improved upon to help relieve the burden associated with agriculture. More so, their opinions in policy making should be sought after all, they know where the shoe pinches.
The impact of youth in agriculture on the economy of any nation cannot be over emphasized; youths are indispensable in moving the agricultural sector towards the future where Nigeria and Africa will be food self-sufficient and food secure.
Innovative start-ups like Farmcenta, is actively involved in supporting youths and women in agriculture through digital means, training and access to finance, by creating more employment opportunities in Nigeria.