Nigeria has a large economy with a growing youth population.The bigger challenge is how to absorb the large number of unemployed youths. Experts believe agric entrepreneurship will tackle the problem. This was the focus of the 20th annual lecture of Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI) held in Ilorin, Kwara State. Daniel Essiet writes.
For aspiring agric entrepreneurs, a new dawn is here. The 20th annual lecture of the Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI), held in Ilorin, Kwara State could not have come at a better time. The forum brought together successful entrepreneurs who are making impact uplifting and economically empowering women and men.
It was to bolster economic renewal, job creation and innovation through agric entrepreneurship.
Analysts at the event noted that Nigeria was a major economy with a growing youth population. However, they believe that there is little evidence to suggest that the economy will absorb youths across the spectrum of skill levels and education. They say the solution to youth unemployment is in the agri-food value chain.
One of those who shared this view was the Chairman, Board of Directors, FirstBank of Nigeria, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika. She was the keynote speaker. She spoke on the topic: Promoting Agripreneurship Green Alternative: A Catalyst for National Security and Sustainable Development.
She said the youth employment deficit left thousands of graduates produced by tertiary institutions jobless. Against this backdrop, she said agriculture has the capacity to absorb unemployed graduates.
She described agriculture as an alternative to the much=touted economic resources derived from petroleum.
“Nigeria is blessed with a very fertile land, but it is saddening to know that majority of its youths are jobless,” she said.
According to her, the stability of Nigeria depends on the nation being able to sustain its citizens’ food production, which would translate to social stability.
Mrs. Awosika further said Nigeria has all the fundamentals needed to grow in agriculture, saying, “we need to know the time of oil is long gone”.
She said Nigeria has opportunities for young workers to start new businesses, create quality jobs, improve their quality of life and wellbeing, strengthen their sense of belonging and integrate themselves into the community. From cash crops to grains, fruits and vegetables, livestock and others, she noted that there are countless opportunities along the value chain.
Currently, she said, the potential of the agric sector is highly underutilised.
Mrs. Awosika noted that agriculture has evolved into what is now known as agribusiness, which is centred on making profit through maximised productivity.
She called for entrepreneurial skills development for profitable agriculture and agribusiness enterprises among the youth.
Mrs. Awosika said the time had come for institutions to play their part in developing entrepreneurs, adding that the society requires a re- orientation to enhance the entrepreneurial mindset to boost startups and create employment.
To her, entrepreneurship has been widely acknowledged as an important mechanism for economic growth and employment creation.
A motivational speaker, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, listed the characteristics of an entrepreneur to include vision, hard work and focus. For her, one must be focused to be the best in the market. With a good vision and great execution, one’s dreams can come true.
A discussant at the lecture and Managing Director of Thelma Farms in Ijebu-Ode, Mr. Babatunde Ogunyemi, emphasised the need for Nigerian youths to embrace agriculture, “On my 350 hectares of land in Ijebu-Ode where I grow fresh indigenous vegetable for exportation, I feel depressed that not enough is done in agriculture.
“Even with our huge production we can only meet just nine per cent of the demand.
“When I met with Mr President some weeks ago in Abuja, I told him that though Nigeria is winning the war against insurgency, but how do we fight the war of feeding our citizens,” he said.
The Executive Director, Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI), Dr. Olufemi Oladunni, called for the overhaul of the agriculture sector to boost the economy, saying if government can overhaul the sector to bring appropriate intervention, agriculture will be a life saver for the nation.
He said the institute is working to empower Nigerians to explore opportunities in the agric sector.
The aim, according to him, is to help Nigerians create jobs, combat food insecurity and poverty by expanding agribusiness, increasing food production, and supporting entrepreneurship .
Oladunni said through its training, the institute focuses on the key gaps inhibiting growth in agribusiness, as it enables smallholder farmers to raise their incomes and yields, while also creating jobs for young people and raising incomes for women.
He said ARMTI supports the development of a vibrant and diversified commercial agriculture as a means to move away from subsistence agriculture, often synonymous with poverty for a majority of rural households.The forum aimed at raising awareness on the importance of engaging youths in agribusiness, making a case for agribusiness as a solution to the high youth unemployment rate, and building consensus around initiatives to address unemployment, contribute to economic growth, and poverty reduction.
SOURCE: Daniel E. (2017), VIEW LINK.