Experts call for youth engagement in farming

Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Ibadan | 24 November 2014 | 2,558 times

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The discovery of crude oil in Nigeria led to the neglect of agriculture in the country and, consequently, the decline in the production of groundnut, cocoa, rice, and many other crops the nation was known for.

The speakers at the symposium averred that Nigeria, at this point in time, should not take agriculture as a job of last resort, “but unleash its huge untapped potential for economic growth at the sub-national and national level, with agricultural value chain, so as to regain its past glory in the global competitive market.”

Director-General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, who was represented by Dr Alfred Dickson, made this submission, while speaking on the theme – “The role of the youth in the sustainability of the agricultural sector: A tool for eradicating extreme poverty and hunger through food security” – during a symposium recently held at the Trenchard Hall, University of Ibadan. The talk-shop was organised by the Nigeria Model United Nations Society (NIGMUNS), a student organisation that simulates the activities of United Nations.

Commenting on the level of unemployment of young graduates in Nigeria, he said it remains a critical issue, a time bomb which poses one of the biggest challenges that requires drastic action so that its repercussions on society and national security would not go worse. “Youths in Nigeria do not want to be farmers because the government is not making it attractive, profitable and competitive for higher standards of living, better health, and longer life.”

In her goodwill message, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Representative in Nigeria, Dr Louise Setshwaelo, said that the United Nations’ FAO fully recognises the significant role which youths can play in strengthening agricultural economy and food security. “Youth participation in the agricultural sector will provide the much-needed employment opportunities for youths, and help fortify food security at the household and national levels.”

She, however, reassured that FAO will continue to partner with government and other stakeholders that are vital to its efforts to create an enabling environment that is more conducive to the needs of the youth and smallholder farmers, especially youths and women who are generally more vulnerable.

President of the association, Ambassador Afolabi Salami, said that the symposium was directed to spotlight the role of youth in raising the profile of family and smallholder farming, by focusing world's attention on its significant role in alleviating hunger, poverty, provision of food security, improving livelihoods, and achieving sustainable development.

The Director of Public Communications, Mr Oladejo Olatunji, who represented the Vice Chancellor of the institution, Professor Isaac Adewole, had pointed out that agriculture is an area which should be scaled up and heavily invested into, so as to be able to feed over 170 million Nigerians. He added that the institution will continue to place emphasis on agriculture, with a view to addressing the challenge of hunger and poverty in Nigeria.

•Photo shows, from right: Representative of the UI Vice Chancellor, Mr. Olatunji; Representative of Food and Agricultural Organisation in Nigeria, Dr. Setshwaelo, and guest speaker, Dr. Dickson, who represented the D-General of IITA, Dr. Sanginga.

Source: News Express

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