Agriculture is one of the promising sectors in Nigeria which can diversify the Nigerian economy and provide job opportunities for the unemployed youths of the nation.The sector which was neglected had since 2016 become an option for diversification owing to its vast potential to drive a more sustainable economic growth in Africa’s most populous nation in terms of job creation and revenue generation. Nigeria was one of the most promising agricultural producers in the world before the coming of oil. But that is history with the majority of our youths and graduates blinded by the promise of a white-collar job and abandoning the endless opportunities in agriculture.
The agricultural sector has the potential to make our youths and graduates self-employed and make them billionaires in the future. The president of the Africa Development Bank, Mr Adewumi Adesina, said “Future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will not come from oil and gas but from agriculture. Adesina also stressed that the size of agribusiness in the continent would be worth $1 trillion by 2030. This is a testament to the opportunities in agriculture in Nigeria and Africa. Nigeria closed its borders in August 2019 with a main objective of curbing smuggling of goods such as rice, tomatoes and poultry to bolster agricultural sector. This move has immensely contributed to improving the agricultural sector and attracting investors. The move has also boosted the confidence in local farmers. Also, it made farmers and millers ramp up production especially for rice and poultry to meet the ever-growing demand for food in the country.
The beauty of the agricultural sector is that it has various stages in which graduates can venture into it. This includes rice and poultry farming, processing such as rice milling, distribution and marketing of processed product. Others include; warehousing, packaging, plantation management, equipment leasing, equipment sales and servicing.
Agribusiness is good business. But most people, especially young people, jump into agriculture without the right knowledge, mentality and attitude, thereby losing their capital.Agriculture is a long term investment. Apart from being a source of employment, Investing in agriculture is also a hidden gold mine as there are many untapped segments. Identifying a niche agricultural segment would make a lot of people millionaires before others realise it’s already happening. Also, the Nigerian government needs youths to invest in agriculture to improve food security and provide jobs for others.
Investing in agriculture is clearly a wise idea but it also comes with its challenges. Lack of land access, insufficient capital, poor access to finance, limited market access are major reasons why youths don’t want to go into agriculture. High cost of inputs and equipment, infrastructural deficit, climate change and environmental challenges, limited support from the government are other reasons. The government of President Muhammadu Buhari deserves applause for its various initiatives in the sector. They include; Anchor Borrowers Programme, Youth Farm Lab, Fertilizer Initiative, among others. These initiatives are proving that the administration remains greatly committed to improving agriculture. lf the government of Nigeria and our youths remain committed to improving and investing in agriculture. It will be one of the most effective tools of fighting poverty, food shortage, hunger and unemployment.