The agricultural sector of the Nigerian economy has repeatedly been said to be one that can positively boost the country’s economy and consequently ensure a better standard of living. This, of course is true as the country is blessed with resources that favor agricultural practices; fertile soil, mineral resources, animals both aquatic and terrestrial. In fact the nation is described as “a land flowing with milk and honey”.
With the availability of these natural resources, the sector is expected to have a high level of patronage considering the present state of the nation’s economy, more so, that it would be a reliable source of good job opportunities. The purposeful exploration and utilization of the available agricultural resources for positive production becomes the next question. It is thus a big irony that the Nigerian able bodied youth who, to a large extent, posses the man-power and skills to harness the agricultural sector, are gradually running away from the agricultural sector for various reasons.
Investigations revealed the perception of the average Nigerian youth about agricultural business;
more worrisome is the fact some Nigerian youths view the agricultural business as a crude or “dirty” activity not worth engaging in after schooling.
According to Rotimi Olarewanju, a fresh graduate of the Kogi State University, youths are not interested in agriculture. He stated that not even those who studied the subject in school want to have anything to do with it.
“Even youths who study agricultural science in school end up in another line after school. They see it as a dirty work, stressful and time consuming. The youths want flashy business, money appealing fashionable business.” He said, suggesting that the best way forward is for the government to get more involved and support the sector.
Moyo Daniels, another undergraduate stated thus: “It is majorly because of the pride that comes with the job one is doing”.
He explained that the availability of options continue to hinder the growth of agriculture, adding that agricultural jobs are associated withdirt, and meant for illiterates.
“After spending so many years in school with all the carry overs, stress and examinations, everybody just wants to work in an office.
Aliyu Precious has just rounded off her one year National service. She said that the agriculture sector is not for her, noting that the entertainment industry has taken over the minds of youths.
“Every youth just wants to sing, act of crack jokes because they believe that the quickest way to make money in today’s Nigeria. And asides that, it is fashion and modeling. Agriculture is pure stress.” She said.
Tolujeje I dris agreed to the notion, saying that the sector is not patronized because of its stressful nature. He exclaimed that “everybody wants to be tagged with something more attractive”.
A farmer, Muda Shuaibu, blamed the lackadaisical nature of the youths towards the agric sector to ignorance. He said that if the youths aknow what they are missing, or the type of wealth attached to the sector, they will really have a change of heart.
“Contrary to popular notions, the agric sector is not as stressful as they make it. This is one job you can do on seasonal basis. It is not as stressful as going to the office every day. It is a leisure based job that brings in returns on a regular basis,” he said.
Shuaibu added that with farming, he has conveniently trained his children in school, and is living a modest and enjoyable life.
“All my children are adequately taken care of, in and out of school. I have never had a reason to go knocking on someone’s door for assistance of any other kind of urgent need. Agriculture provides them all my needs. And you know, food has become common place for my family, he said.
Some youths however, expressed readiness to go into the agric practice in a ‘big time’ if assisted with the necessary start up needs.
Mr. Jibola Andrew is a Psychologist, who runs a secondary school in Lagos. He stated that the time has gone when farming and other agriculture related professions were counted as dirty and for illiterates, adding that things have changed today, and unfortunately the youths, who are built for it, do not know it.
“Agriculture has many facets like fishery, poultry farming, cattle rearing, and many others. And all of them are money spinning, but unfortunately, the youths no nothing about it. The way entertainment has eaten up the minds of the upcoming generation has made it difficult for them to see clearly. Everyone just wants to drive big cars, and be called celebrity just for concocting some miserable lyrics. Someone needs to give them some orientation to redirect them,” he said.
It is therefore, imperative that government, in pursuant of his change agenda, creates an enabling environment for agriculture to thrive and provide the bread for any one bold enough to get involved in it.