Thursday, 25 July 2013

Government Set To Train Nigerian Graduates In Agro-Entrepreneurship

The vision of training a new generation of business savvy farmers got a boost with the announcement by the Minister of Agriculture that 750,000 young graduates would be trained by the the federal government.This was announced at a workshop organized by The Rockerfeller Foundation in Abuja tagged “Realising the Potential of African Agriculture: Catalytic Innovations "

In a study we conducted earlier this year, it was established that youths in Nigeria are eager to secure employment in this sector, but they need to be assured that agriculture can be a better means of earning money and provided with appropriate training. The current curriculum for agriculture in our educational system has a high emphasis on theoritical knowledge and practise without entrepreneurial focus. Agricultural training has to be revamped not only to make food available to millions of poor and hungry people, but also to create opportunities for youth to produce cash crops for local and international markets. In this light, Mr Adesina Akinwumi the Minister of Agriculture's announcement is a major victory for advocates of building agricultural training centres across the country. The Ministry of Agriculture aims to provide this training to the throngs of unemployed young graduates across the country looking to engage in agriculture. The training would provide participants with access to land, technical skills, business management skills and the finance for this programme. At present majority of Nigerian youths are neither interested in farming nor in agricultural professions. The inability to increase the desire of youth to take up agriculture is created by the continued rural-urban migration that has been taking place over the last few decades. Employment opportunities for youth continue to decline, but expansion of the agricultural sector will bring major improvements.

The President of The Foundation Judith Rodin, in her remarks observed that focus of the foundation was agriculture. She said that the foundation was out to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. She added that the foundation had also initiated programmes that had benefited not only regional economies but smallholder farmers. Ms. Rodin noted that the ideas and recommendations from the meeting would have an impact on finance and agricultural issues in Nigeria and across the continent. There is tremendous deficiency in youth employment engagement initiatives, as well as a crippled agricultural industry. Addressing the deficiencies will be a huge feat. However, with innovative, creative, and meaningful decisions by leaders, advocates, and policy-makers, the nation can begin to provide the necessary training, tools, incentives, and information to motivate the youth to participate in a viable and productive industry. Sponsoring young graduates across the country would be a massive first step.