Why Niger Delta youth shun agriculture – Report

The foundation recommended bottom top approach for community development in the Niger-Delta.

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Young people in the Niger-Delta region stay away from agriculture, a study by the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta, PIND, has shown.

 

According to the study, most youth of the region do not consider employment in the agricultural sector because they do not feel adequately encouraged and integrated  into the industry.

This study was done on the recommendation of the Rivers Songhai Initiative, RSI, managed by the Rivers State Sustainability Development Agency.

The RSI is an agricultural training model that focuses on reducing waste through the use of farm products and integrated farming methods. It’s a replication of the Songhai international model.

The Rivers State Sustainability Development Agency, which also serves as the link between the state government and the Songhai centre, listed a reduction in youth restiveness as a goal of the RSI.

But this has not been adequately achieved because of the flaws inherent in the RSI, including the Top Bottom Approach
Bottom Top Approach

In two studies, PIND, the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, and the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative, recommended the bottom-top approach for community development in the Niger Delta.

The studies also advised against scaling up or replicating any initiative without considering the cultural preferences and socio-political differences of operational environments.

“The results from the in-depth interviews also demonstrate that it is advisable to adjust development programmes to local conditions rather than utilizing cut-and-paste designs with no ramifications.

“The board of the initiative should consider policy designs that encourage and integrate youth into the agriculture sector. An increased focus on youth will meet the goals of youth employment, poverty reduction and food security,” PIND recommended.

Results from the studies also indicated that a majority of the beneficiaries of the RSI are older than 35. Only 25 per cent of the survey respondents were between the ages of 23 and 35.

The studies are models of development and experiential learning, which is aimed at identifying, understanding, documenting and sharing development “models that address a broad range of constraints to economic growth and community well-being in the Niger Delta,” PIND said.

One of the studies is entitled “Participant perception of the effectiveness of the Rivers Songhai Initiative in the Niger Delta”.

The other study is titled “Analysis of community-driven development in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region: Use of the institutional analysis and development framework; a case study of Akassa development foundation”.

The Akassa development foundation is a bottom-up community-driven development project involved in developing local capacity to manage development activities in the Niger Delta region.

Akassa is a community in Bayelsa state.

The study observed that interventions like the ones done by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, faced criticisms because of its sector –wide model, which does not necessarily represent the desires and yearnings of the people.

The sector-wide model is a form of top-down approach, which the report blamed for the commission’s challenges.

“Active participation of the Akassa community in the Akassa development foundation positively contributes to beneficiary satisfaction with the intervention. Thus, policies that promote community involvement in similar development interventions should be encouraged.

“After more than a decade of existence of the NDDC regional master plan, critics of the plan have questioned whether the quality of peoples’ lives has improved.

“Additionally, critics emphasize that the top-down approach is prone to many operational and sustainability constraints”.

PIND recommends that policymakers place emphasis on the importance of collective choice arrangements and participatory approach to community development.


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