Youth-in-agribusiness initiatives key to solving youth unemployment

Despite the introduction of several intervention programs to reduce or eradicate youth unemployment, the creation of jobs to reduce unemployment has been a major and trending issue across most developing and less developed countries in the world.
However, the increasing unemployment rate in Nigeria among the youth within the age bracket of 25–35, remains a challenge to social, and economic stability. This has been attributed to insufficient basic, and social infrastructure among other factors. For example, the erratic power supply affects the economy, especially the manufacturing and agriculture sectors.
With about 1.6 million youths graduating annually from tertiary institutions in Nigeria, the labor demand outgrows the supply, and there are limited job opportunities for the growing workforce. While agriculture is being explored as a sector that can solve the unemployment challenge due to huge existing potentials, it can help young people to not only be employed but to create jobs for other youths. However, a minority of the youths have entrepreneurial skills in agribusiness or other businesses as they are mostly dependent on white-collar jobs.
In Nigeria, there have been various intervention initiatives to address youth unemployment such as Youth Empowerment Agricultural Program (YEAP), FADAMA youth program, and Ogun Women and Youth Empowerment Scheme (OGW-YES).
According to a study conducted by Olalekan Bello under the IFAD-funded IITA-CARE project, findings suggest that participation in Youth-In-Agribusiness (YIA) programs could increase youths’ employment opportunities, especially in entrepreneurship.
Bello also revealed that some differences among the participants and non-participants of the YIA program include more productive assets and monthly income with participants than the non-participants. While factors influencing participation in these programs include; education, training, farming experience, membership in a youth organisation, productive asset, access to credit and extension services.
The study shows participants of YIA programs are likely to be more gainfully employed than their non-participants’ counterpart, as they engage in several agribusiness enterprises with the largest being maize production, and the lowest being catfish farming.
Bello, who carried out the study on two YIA programs (FADAMA and OGW-YES) in two states - Ondo and Ogun, in Nigeria said, ‘these programs involved the training and setting up of businesses for youths in different fields of agriculture such as crop and animal production.’
He recommends vocational, and capacity-building training to be considered by stakeholders, donors, government or non-governmental organisations, as it will help improve the skills of youths in agribusiness.
“There is also a need for policy directed towards strengthening both private and governmental institution in providing credits to empower youths”, he added.
With IFAD funding research by young scientists across 10 countries in Africa, under the IITA-CARE project, the study carried out by Bello explores the impact of youth-in-agribusiness programs on creating gainful employment in Nigeria. According to Bello, the extension service system ought to be upgraded to one which can operate not only physically but through media such as the internet, radio, and television. Programs on prospects in agriculture through this media could also increase the awareness, and participation in YIA programs which will eventually create gainful employment for youths.

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