The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said involving young people in agriculture is key to transforming Nigerian food systems, noting that the country’s size and youthful population offer great potential for the sector. The IFAD Country Director in Nigeria, Ms. Dede Ekoue, made the observation during the 2022 edition of the Federal Government of Nigeria/IFAD National Youth Forum for Value Chain Development (VCDP) in Abuja, recently. on the theme “Promoting sustainable youth empowerment in agribusiness and entrepreneurship”. .” Ekoue said agribusiness, entrepreneurship and technology could be used to improve the livelihoods of youth and women in the country, thereby enhancing food security, boosting economic growth and access to a decent job.
According to her, despite the youth of the country’s population, the average age of farmers is 60, stressing that the sector has yet to maximize Nigeria’s demographic dividend of a young population. “Nigeria’s young women and men must remain the top priority for all of us. They deserve our support to reach their full potential, allow them to thrive and also ensure a sustainable productive life.
“Agricultural development offers an opportunity to meet young people’s aspirations for stable jobs and access to social services that are normally absent in rural areas.
“These ambitions are common push factors for increased migration of young men and women in most developing countries,” she added.
For her part, the national program coordinator, FGN/IFAD-VCDP, Dr. Fatima Aliyu, informed that the program aims to increase the incomes, food and nutritional security of smallholders and producers who cultivate no more than five hectares. cassava or rice.
Aliyu added that the FGN/IFAD-VCDP program targets processors who process no more than two metric tons of cassava and grind no more than four metric tons of rice per day and traders on a sustainable basis. His words: “IFAD-VCDP is implemented by the Nigerian government with financial support from IFAD in nine states of Anambra, Benue, Enugu, Ebonyi, Kogi, Niger, Nasarawa, Ogun and Taraba. “IFAD attended the VCDP of the FMARD Youth Forum which is held annually to discuss contemporary issues related to youth and entrepreneurship development, to showcase the programme’s contribution to the government’s efforts to tackle youth unemployment in Nigeria.” Furthermore, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Dr. Mohammad Abubakar pointed out that a huge population of young Nigerians are largely unemployed or underemployed, saying that this set of people are endowed with the ingenuity and patriotism necessary for national growth and development.
Represented by the Director of Project Coordination Unit (PCU) of FMARD, Mr. Ubandoma Ularamu, the Minister noted that the need to harness and maximize these potentials has been one of the main policy thrusts of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, with his ministry playing the leading role. major role, being both the largest employer of labor both actual and potential. Abubakar said, “The Ministry is currently implementing a strong National Youth and Gender Policy aimed at empowering youth and women, developing growth potentials and contributing to national development.
“Agriculture is a key sector of the Nigerian economy that ensures food security, creates jobs, opens up rural economies, provides raw materials and develops resources and latent potentials. “He remained a major contributor to the economy in the non-oil sector,” the minister added.
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