#IYD2016: How Young People Can Be Motivated In Practicing Sustainable Agriculture
Editor’s Note: Happy International Youth Day! This year’s theme is in line with the Sustainable Development Goal with the theme: “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Production and Consumption”
In commemoration of today’s activity (ies); Tokurah Majid Jeremiah, an advent agriblogger with interest in Youth4Ag (Youth for Agric) writes on “How Young People Can Be Motivated In Practicing Sustainable Agriculture”
By Majid Tokurah, @jidkod, Nigeria
In most developing countries, Nigeria inclusive, young people constitute majority of the population, they account for over 70 percent of the population. The average age of a Nigerian is 19.2 for male and 19.3 for female.According to a former Minister of Youth Development, Alhaji Bolaji Abdullahi, 42.2 percent of Nigeria’s youth population are out of job – youths that can be gainfully engaged in sustainable agriculture. Youth constitutes the backbone and future of any nation, therefore the need for them to be engaged in policy issues that surround and affect them – issues relating to poverty and growing own food. In Nigeria young people are needed to participate in issues relating to agriculture and its sustainable practice. If we keep neglecting their participation I wonder if we will have a future that could feed itself, especially as Issues that relate to climate change, food wastage, poverty, unemployment and environmental issues keep coming up.
As global population increases, we need to grow more food to feed ourselves and generate revenue for ourselves through export while taking cognizance of issues relating to adaptation for our environment. Agriculture if not practiced rightly can have its own effect on the environment. Eighty percent of the country’s population depends on agricultural products for its most basic needs, therefore we are more affected to the effect of unsustainable agricultural practices than we think. Sustained growth in agricultural productivity has become an ideal model and a political goal of agricultural development in Nigeria especially with the current Federal Government releasing its Agricultural sector policy roadmap document in June 2016 which is channeled towards sustainable agricultural practice. The document discussed on issues particular on the need to maximize the contribution of youth to agricultural production and elimination of discriminatory practices in the employment of youth in the sector. It discussed on climate change and how sustainable agricultural development can enhance food security and importantly how awareness of climate issues can help in investment decisions for agriculture.
I was opportune to attend several farming circle meetings and discovered the turnout is the really low for young people in Agriculture in such meetings. For us to grow as a nation it is required for us to focus on motivating and engaging young people into the agricultural sector to increase production and engagements while also educating them on sustainable farming practices.
This year’s International Youth Day (IYD) theme is targeted towards creating awareness on issues relating to sustainable Agriculture practice. Its theme “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Production and Consumption” has one indispensable requirement for sustainable development and it is eradicating of poverty and hunger in all forms and dimension. The three dimensions of sustainable development requires tackling from the economic, social and environmental standpoint.
The change in climate is hitting Agriculture harder more than ever, and responding to this will ensure Africa will be able to feed its ever growing young population, who better to get involved in the process of production of food than the youth – as we have increase in consumption.
How can we motivate our youths?
- Need for Value Re-orientation: Young people think Agriculture is a get rich quick scheme when they hear about it, they think it’s something you can just rush into to make gain.They are not ready to sit down and face the hard work. Some others have poor attitude to self-reliance efforts which is caused by years of laziness and culture of support by family and relatives.They also don’t know what it takes to own or run a farm. They maintain a heavy preference on waiting on employment, without the willingness to start something however small while others have bad communication and public speaking skills.
Youth programmes toward leadership training, character development and value re-orientation should be developed in various communities to support youth. I served in Kebbi state and I discovered these issues first hand. These youths maintain idleness and don’t just know what to do. Some of them were brought up from very dis-functional family background and need re-orientation.
Young people who have gone ahead to practice one form of agricultural production could be invited to share their startup stories to inspire others.
- Supported trainings, skill acquisition and skills development: NGOs and associations should support the youth with self-improvement programmes. Early startups in crop production, fisheries, poultry, etc. should be given supported skills training to update their knowledge and adopting new practices and technologies for optimum production. More Agriculture internship opportunities should be made available in different communities.
- Creation of Agro-cities: One of the ways in getting young people involved in sustainable agriculture is through creation of Agro-cities via allocation of land to them in agricultural estates where whatsoever they need in infrastructures will be made available at affordable costs with provision of basic ICT infrastructure and services. Workshops, seminars and forummade available within the Agro-city to keep them there and encourage young people to focus and come up with ideas on developing sustainable agriculture.
- Entrepreneurship Development programmes which will include training and access to credit to set up small scale businesses.Government should provide or guarantee some funding support to those professionals who want to set up their own businesses.The established senior colleagues of young professionals should endeavor to provide mentorship support to them.
- Youth Inclusion in Governance and Development: Participation in policy discussion regarding sustainable agriculture, poverty, climate change of all social groups is crucial. Youth inclusion should be geared to achieve youth representation;Government should patronize the services of young professionals who prefer to set up their own services and also enhance the capacity of political institutions to substantively engage with young people.
- Government Support/Procurement: Government Agencies to Purchase products of the young farmers at higher rates than what is obtainable in local markets and provide them with subsidized inputs including regulation of vaccines for animals, provision of subsidized equipment, and ensure availability of improved seed varieties for farmers.
Agriculture as it is currently practiced is crude with a lot of risks from climate change effects such as flooding, droughts, pests and diseases, extreme heat can dry up plants among others. We are faced on a daily basis with harsh realities from climate impacts,this has led to poor crops, less food and lower income.
Climate change effects accelerates land degradation across landscapes in different parts of the country some of them leading to obvious gully erosions. Two-third of the poor depend on the land and their livelihood are at risk with reduction in harvest. Farmlands are increasingly flooded while 11.3 percent of the world’s population go hungry, those who are hungry either do not have land to grow food or money to purchase it. It is observed a quarter of the worlds undernourished people live in sub-Saharan Africa and are young people – Nigeria is a part of that region with over 80 million hectares of arable land for agriculture, the growth potential for this sector is enormous hence the campaign for young people to be engaged in the sector.
We therefore need to increase awareness of the debilitating issue of climate effects and to sustainably engage them in the sector to combat hunger.
About the Author:
Tokurah Majid Jeremiah is a graduate of Agricultural Engineering, Federal University of Technology Akure. He has extensive experience in the agricultural space and an expert in sustainable agriculture, he has experiences in using social media to represent youth interest in agriculture through awareness and capacity building events. He is a Local representative at YPARD Nigeria – a network of Agriculture Professionals, and currently serves Business Development at Agropreneur Nigeria. He is the CEO of AgriPRO KONSULT, an agri-based business bringing farmers closer to their markets. He blogs at http://www.jidkod.wordpress.com