With about 14% of youths in the country experiencing unemployment as at 2020, according to research, youths within the age bracket 15-24years are not only available for employment but are actively seeking various means of employment. The huge youthful population in Nigeria is faced with high rates of unemployment, underemployment and poor livelihood.
Recent study reveals that agriculture can be a sustainable source of employment and livelihood for so many youths in the country, according to Sulaiman Umar, one of the IITA–CARE youth researchers, employing more youths as modern agripreneurs would increase domestic food security while developing rural economy, and engendering economic growth. Also, the study found out that undergraduate students are willing to engage in agribusiness, especially when given an enabling environment.
The research carried out in north-western Nigeria assessed the factors that influence youths engaging in agribusiness in contrast to their south-western counterparts. According to Umar, youths in the north-west are willing to engage in agribusiness if conditions are enabling, while those in the south-west will opt for other occupations other than agriculture.
Youth in Nigeria form a significant part of the population, with potentials that can be strategically harnessed to provide sustainable solutions to the challenge of unemployment. Agribusiness has been listed as one of the major solutions to creating employment for young people and this study reveals some of the factors that motivate them to become agripreneurs.
According to the study, which is being sponsored by IFAD, young people with strong positive attitudes and confidence in their agribusiness skills are significantly more likely to become agripreneurs.
“Ideally, youths trained in faculties and schools of agriculture in universities and polytechnics acquire such competence”, Umar stated.
According to the study, policymakers can engage civil society organizations and youth groups in enlightenment campaigns geared towards mindset change and encouraging youth to embrace agribusiness as a means of livelihood.
The project communication person, Timilehin Osunde, added that Public-private partnership can also be explored by governments in Africa, as this will help with increasing investments in conditions that facilitate agribusiness.
As part of the study, Umar recommends initiatives that can make soft loans available to young agripreneurs, while equipping them with the skills competencies needed to establish and manage agribusiness enterprises.
Youths are critical stakeholders in policy creation, hence, there is need to increase emphasis on practical, and pertinent agribusiness skills in school curriculums, while embarking on continuous training and re-training of teachers at all levels.
For Umar, youths are willing to embrace agribusiness as long as the conditions such as sustainable land tenure conditions, access to productive resources, and support from the government, and private sector are favourable.