The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is asking the Federal Government of Nigeria to formulate policies that will encourage young people to go into farming and also reduce farmers’ risks.
According to the President of IFAD, Kanayo Nwanze, agriculture provides a better revenue and job creation alternatives to Nigeria.
He also attributed the growing number of rural-urban migration experienced in most cities to lack of development policies that consider rural dwellers who are mainly farmers.
A large number of Nigeria’s youth are unemployed and according to IFAD agriculture is a good means to get them engaged.
At a meeting of representatives from Central and West African countries in Abuja held to brainstorm on best ways to encourage young people into agriculture, IFAD decried the rate of rural-urban migration among young people.
For the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the forum, good initiatives of the government alone are not enough to change the narratives.
He stressed that implementation framework must be developed for impactful programmes.
Nigeria has participated in several fora of this kind in the past, with successive governments formulating policies aimed at developing the agricultural sector.
Yet, the practice of agriculture has continued to remain in the hands of peasant farmers with low capacity to produce food for Nigeria’s growing population.
This has led to a growing import index for food items including some perishables that could be grown locally.
President Goodluck Jonathan said Friday that his Administration was wholly committed to actualizing its plans to positively transform Nigeria’s agricultural sector into a major wealth creator and source of employment for the nation’s youth.
Speaking at an audience with a delegation from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) led by its President, Dr. Kanayo Nwanze, President Jonathan said that the Federal Government was initiating and promoting reforms that will move Nigeria away from a preponderance of subsistence farming to the establishment of agriculture as a very viable modern-day business.
“We have a very large youthful population and to create enough jobs for them we must develop agriculture, solid minerals and other sectors. Nigeria has a lot of untapped potentials for agricultural development. If we can reposition agriculture as a profitable and dignified profession, more of our young people will be encouraged to go that way.
“We are very focused in this regard and I am confident that we will achieve positive results,” the President assured Mr. Nwanze and his delegation which included IFAD’s Country Representative in Nigeria, Atsuko Toda.
Noting that the implementation of its agricultural value chain development programme was a very important component of the Federal Government’s plans to revolutionize agricultural production in Nigeria, President Jonathan thanked IFAD for supporting the programme with a $74 million virtually interest-free loan.
He praised Mr Nwanze for his continuing support for agricultural development in Nigeria, saying that Nigeria was also proud of the good work the IFAD President was doing to promote self-sufficiency in food production globally.
Mr Nwanze told the President that IFAD had given loans and grants worth $225 Million for agricultural development in Nigeria since 1985.
He promised that IFAD will continue to support efforts of the Jonathan Administration to modernize agricultural production in Nigeria, saying that recent positive developments in the sector were a testimony to the President’s “commitment and dedication”.