A new government plan, “Youth in Agriculture”, is expected to create jobs for youth.
The Federal government is currently developing a presidential initiative aimed at creating 700,000 young commercial farmers in the agricultural sector of the country, the minister of agriculture said.
Adewumi Adesina, disclosed this in Akure, Ondo State when he delivered a Foundation Day Lecture of the Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA.
He said the initiative tagged “Youth in Agribusiness” is meant to attract the youth into agriculture. Mr. Adesina said that the governments at all tiers need to create jobs for many unemployed youth; and the agriculture sector holds the greatest potential to create millions of jobs.
“These will be farmers of the future, under mechanized agriculture, who will make Nigeria’s agriculture competitive for decades into the future,” he said.
The minister said the Federal Government would work in partnership with the state governments to put in place technical training facilities, business skills acquisition centers and entrepreneurship development centers in order to achieve the objective.
He challenged universities and especially faculties of agriculture on the need to wake up to the reality around them.
The minister lamented that agriculture graduates rather than practice what they were taught in schools run away from the profession and look for jobs in other areas.
“Agriculture is changing rapidly. Today, only countries that move into commercial agriculture and agriculture as business have a chance compete. We must change the way we train students, what we train them and what we prepare them for.
“Look at any profession, lawyers practice law because they were prepared for it; doctors practice medicine, they were prepared for it, but the agriculture graduate does not practice agriculture. They run from it, they look for jobs in other sectors.
“We must train our students to become job creators and not job hunters. The faculties of agriculture and the Universities of agriculture need to change their curriculum to be in line with the realities of the labour market and prepare students with practical technical and business skills they need to set up agribusinesses”, he said.
While stressing the need to fix the agriculture extension system, the minister said one of the main reasons for the low level of the use of modern technologies is the lack of functioning agricultural extension system.
He said the extension to farmer ration in Nigeria is 1:20,000 which is 20 times below the global best practices.
The minister said in order to address the situation, the Federal Department of Agricultural Extension had been established in the ministry this year for the first time in the history.