Agricultural Youth Sensitive Policies; The Way Forward In Enhancing Youths Inclination Towards Agriculture
Youths constitute a formidable force in the agricultural production process, constituting a sizeable proportion of the workforce especially in the rural areas. While their contribution towards attaining food security cannot be underestimated yet their apparent lukewarm attitude towards agriculture is a source of concern. Majority of agricultural policies and programmes formulated in Nigeria do not consider stirring up the interests of youth, this has also made youths to seek employment in other sectors of the economy in order to empower themselves economically, and leaving the bulk of agricultural practices in the hands of old people. The paper reveals inadequacies in past agricultural policies and highlight ways to stir up the interest of youths in the field. The paper among many other recommendations says that ICT should be promoted among youths to uplift the face of agriculture from playing the second fiddle to other professions.
Keywords; Youth, Agriculture, Policies, Empowerment, Nigeria
Table Of Content
- Title Page
- Table of Content
- 1.1 Background to the Study
- 1.2 Statement of the Problem
- 1.3 Objectives of the Study
- 1.4 Research Questions
- 1.5 Research Hypothesis
- 1.6 Significance of the Study
2.0 Literature Review
- 2.1 Conceptual Review
- 2.2 Inadequacies of Past Agriculture Policies And Programmes
- 2.3 Agriculture Policies and Programmes that will Attract Youths Must Ensure the Following:
- 2.4 Challenges to Rural Youths’ Participation in Agricultural Development Programmes
- 2.5 Strategies to Effective Participation of Youths In Agricultural Development Programmes in Nigeria
- 2.6 Theoretical Framework
3.0 Research Methodology
- 3.1 Research Design
- 3.2 Study Area
- 3.3 Population of the Study
- 3.4 Sample and Sampling Technique
- 3.5 Instrument for Data Collection
- 3.6 Method of Data Analysis
4.0 Results and Discussion
- 4.1 Results
5.0 Conclusion and Recommendation
- 5.1 Conclusion
- 5.2 Recommendations
1.1 Background to the Study
Agriculture is the art and science of growing plants and other crops and the raising of animals for food, other human needs, or economic gain (Bareja, 2014). Agriculture also includes horticulture, fruits growing, seed growing, dairy farming and livestock breeding and keeping, the use of land as grazing land (Agricultural Act 1947). It is the only sector that supplies food to both man and livestock. Apart from food, agriculture supplies raw materials to agro- based industries such as leather, textile, rubber, beverage industries, among others. Agriculture is also the largest sector of the economy of Nigeria which several enterprises are embedded into. (United Nations Development Programme 2012).
Importance of agriculture to every developing Nation is seen in its contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and its ability to reduce poverty especially to the rural dwellers (Oyakhilomen and Zibah, 2014). In Nigeria, agriculture contributes over 40% of the GDP and 60% of the population is engaged in agricultural production (Nwafor, Ehor, Chukwu and Amuka, 2011). Though agriculture contributes highly to the socio-economic lives of people in Nigeria, and is also composed of several enterprises, it is continuously relegated by youths and regarded as a hard-on farm work only meant for the aged and the poor.
An enterprise is the activity of starting and running a business (Longman Dictionary of contemporary English 2003). An enterprise can also be described as the actions of someone who shows some initiative by taking a risk, investing in and running a business.
Agricultural production enterprise is the activity or project or undertaking in any of the agricultural production ventures for business purposes. It could be in crop production, livestock production, landscaping and so on. According to Egbule, (2004), agricultural enterprises are classified into clusters and they are; soil science, fisheries, farm machinery, horticulture, and food processing and preservation, livestock and crop production. Osinem (2008) again enumerated enterprises in agriculture such as landscaping, horticulture, agribusiness, natural resources management, agricultural mechanization, crop and animal production. Ikeoji (2017) also enumerated agricultural production enterprises as follows; mini-livestock enterprise such as grass cutter farming, snail farming, animal production and crop production.
Crop production enterprises could be yam, cassava, vegetables, rice, maize and cowpea. Estate plantation enterprises, these could be plantain or banana plantations, oil palm, cashew, orange, pineapple, mango and guava plantations. Ikeoji (2017) again gave other enterprises such as animal production which include goat and sheep, piggery enterprise, quail production, poultry production enterprise which could be egg production, meat or broiler production, hatchery and brooding enterprise and aquaculture farming enterprise.
Agricultural farm enterprises have basic features that distinguish them from other enterprises. The soil is the basic input that cannot be relocated, does not run out and cannot be expanded without limits (Varro, 2014). The author further listed other features of agricultural production enterprises such as fertility improvement through rational cultivation. Agricultural production processes being affected by natural conditions (climate, topography, soil quality). These endowments cannot be changed or radically transformed by man. Another essential feature of agricultural production enterprise is that, it is a biological process and production continues until this process is interrupted. A very important feature of agricultural production enterprise is that majority of the products are rapidly perishable and as such requires substantial transportation or processing capacities (Varro, 2014). However, there is poor image of persons involved in agricultural production, non availability of agricultural machines to the rural farmer and non-involvement of youths in agricultural policies are some limiting factors for youths’ participation in agricultural production. (Lyocks, Lyocks and Kagbu, 2013).
Agricultural production enterprises, if efficiently and effectively engaged into by youths can be good source of employment to the large number of youths in Nigeria at large, and will ameliorate the socio-economic problems of unemployment.
Employment is a condition of having a paid job (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English 2003). A person is employed if he/she is engaged in the production of goods or services thus, he/she contributes to the GDP in a legitimate manner and receives some form of compensation for the activity.
Employment in this study refers to any person who is engaged in any agricultural production enterprise to produce goods and services and in turn get compensation for it. Agricultural sector comprises of different sub-sectors that if youths engage into them will reduce unemployment rate in the country.
Different countries and authors have various opinions about who youths are depending on their differences in culture, sociological and political ideologies. In the opinion of Agbulu, Asogwa and Ekele, (2013) youths refer to the young adults between the age of 12-25 that have energy and vigor for work. According to National Youth Development Policy (2001) youths are people aged 18-35. United Nations Youth Agenda (2004) submitted that youths are individuals between ages of 15-24 years. However, Benue is a state in Nigeria, so youth period in this case extends to 35 years. This period is marked by exuberance, energetic, zeal and vigor (Ajoegbu, 2012). The author further stressed that the energy, zeal and vigor if not meaningfully and properly channeled, the youths tend to be restive, drug addicts, oil bunkers, kidnappers, terrorist.
The youths are projected to constitute a large percentage of people in Benue State. National Population Commission (2016) projected a population of people of Benue State to be 5,741.800 out of which the youths constitute a total of 1,691515. Benue state is an agrarian state that has a large expanse of land suitable for the production of a variety of crops (Mbah, Ezeano and Odiaka 2016), the conditions also favour the production of animals. The climatic and soil conditions are favourable for the production of both arable and permanent crops, livestock and ornamental plants. Due to the favourable environmental conditions crops like yam, cassava, maize, sorghum, rice, groundnuts, and soya beans are produced on a large scale. Others include guava, mango, and citrus among others, (Agbulu, Asogwa and Ekele 2013).
Livestock production is also not left out in Benue State. Livestock such as pigs, goats and sheep, poultry birds (turkey, chicken, and quail) are reared on a relatively large scale, thus giving Benue State the name food basket of the nation. Other agricultural businesses such as transportation, processing, packaging and marketing also thrive well in the state. Agricultural extension agents in conjunction with farmers enable the production of these agricultural products. Agricultural extension agents according to Nagel (1997) refers to individuals who are professionals who educate farmers in the use of improved farming methods and techniques, increased productivity and income, thereby improving their levels of living and uplift their social and educational standard. According to Davis, (2008) agricultural extension agents are trained persons who assist farmers to solve problems and communicate agricultural information, develop skills and technologies in agriculture. Agricultural extension agents in this context refers to trained individuals who are professionals, possess skills and knowledge in agricultural production enterprises and work with youths and farmers.
Despite all the favourable conditions for agricultural production enterprises to thrive well in Benue State, most youths migrate from rural areas to the state capital or other cities in search of employment from other sectors of the economy that are already limited compared to the population of youths. The youths possess the energy and vigour that when effectively channeled to meaningful production in agricultural enterprises will provide a source of employment for the unemployed youths. (Olukundun, Falola and Ibidunni, 2014).
Unemployment is a condition of being without a job or a vocation. (Olukundun, Falola and Ibidunni, 2014). International Labour Organization reported (1998/1999) unemployment to be a statistic of the population who are active, willing and are available but without a job. A report by Education Development Centre (2002) shows a high rate of youth unemployment compared to adult unemployment especially the underdeveloped countries like Nigeria. Though a wide range of agricultural production enterprises exist in Benue State coupled with the favourable climatic and soil conditions, very few youths are engaged in these enterprises. The consequence of this is increased poverty, low productivity or output, restiveness and several other social vices in and around towns in Benue State. All these hinder the development of any state or nation (Eriba 2011).
Development is viewed in terms of a nations ability to meet the indices on the Human Development Index which are; longevity of life expectancy, gender equality and empowerment, security, peace and stability, communications and environmental protection (Agba, in Eriba, 2011). Therefore, considering the high level of unemployment in Nigeria, the state fall short of the indices of development.
Sustainable Development is conceptualized as paths of human progress which meets the needs and aspirations of the present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their social, political, economic and cultural needs in an environment that can meet the needs of future generations (United Nations General Assembly, 1987). All these cannot be met where there is high rate of unemployed youths who are unable to satisfy their basic needs of food, shelter and clothing as is the case with youths in Benue State. For sustainable Development to be achieved in the state, youths should be gainfully employed in the numerous agricultural production enterprises available in the state in order to meet their social, economic, political and cultural needs in a conserved and protected environment to meet the needs of future generation.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Agriculture is a known profession in Nigeria and the largest employer of labour in the country. Yet from observation, most people practicing it as a means of livelihood are often the old and uneducated youths. The youth at present, constitute about 60% of Nigeria’s population and have over the years made significant contributions to National Development (Vision 2010 report, 2005).
The poor state of youth participation in agricultural activities in Nigeria has been a matter of great concern among agriculturists, agricultural researchers as well as administrators. The decline in the number of students entering the field of agriculture has been on the rise over the years, many students unfortunately look down on agriculture, even despising it, hence resulting in non-challant attitude towards Agriculture. Agricultural transformation will not take place in developing countries such as Nigeria unless there is improved technical knowledge and willingness of youth to be in the sector. Idachaba (1995).
As a result of the main focus of Nigerian economy on oil, while agriculture is neglected, youths do not tend to see any potential in agriculture. Hence, a lot of young people have no interest in farming because they don’t see it as a lucrative business (Mohammed-Lawal et al, 2009). According to Abdulsalam-Saghir et al (2008), the youth see agricultural practice as inferior, unfulfilling and very hard. There is an urgent need to address the issue so as to change the negative view of youth towards agriculture and encourage them to embrace the vocation. This is because the development and future of agriculture like other sectors of life depends on the youths.Youths have the potential to overcome some of the major constraints to expanding animal production in developing countries such as pest control, feeding, genetic improvement and protection against predators because they are often more open to new ideas and practices than adult farmers. They play an important role in awareness raising on different subjects (Ijere, 1992).
Mobilizing the youths for national development is a common phenomenon amongst the western and developing countries. In such countries as Great Britain, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, the United States of America and Tanzania, the involvement of youths in agricultural production through youth programmes had contributed significantly to agricultural development and empowering the citizenry and youths to always meet the full needs and deep seated aspiration to be self sufficient in food production (FAO, 1990). Indeed, since the youths are the future of any country, it is useful to develop them into patriotic citizens, future progressive farmers and better citizens.
Despite all the favourable conditions for agricultural production enterprises to thrive well in Nigeria, most youths migrate from rural areas to urban areas or other cities in search of formal employment from other sectors of the economy. The work of agricultural production is left in the hands of the aged who are no longer strong, mostly illiterates and are unaware of agricultural innovations. This triggered the researcher to research into strategies to enhance the youth involvement in agricultural production enterprises for employment and sustainable development.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main purpose of the study was to assess agricultural youth sensitive policies and to determine strategies to enhance youths’ inclination towards agriculture. The following objectives were posed to guide the study.
- Identify factors inhibiting youths’ inclination towards agriculture.
- Determine strategies for enhancing youths’ inclination towards agriculture using sensitive policies for employment and sustainable development.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions were raised to guide the study.
- What are the factors inhibiting youths’ inclination towards agriculture?
- What are the strategies for enhancing youths’ inclination towards agriculture using sensitive policies for employment and sustainable development?
1.5 Research Hypothesis
- There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of responses of youths and agricultural policies on factors inhibiting youths’ inclination towards agriculture.
- There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of responses of youths and agricultural policies on strategies for enhancing youths’ inclination towards agriculture.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The need to emphasis youth participation in agricultural education to enhance food security cannot be overemphasized. This is because the future of agriculture in most developing countries might be bleak if the bulk of the production efforts were relinquished to the aged farming population. The advocacy on youth empowerment is because they are the most critical as agents of change in every society. This is an obvious precursor for the phenomenal food insecurity especially in developing countries such as Nigeria. If the situation remains without attention paid to the youth who are strong agents of change then, sustainable food security remains in doubt. Expectedly, youth would have bridged this gap. Unfortunately, it is a known fact that even those youth who has neither a viable or employability skill nor a good certificate are always on the move into the cities. Besides, most of the social vices perpetrated in various parts of the country are done by the unemployed graduate youths from various levels of education. This study will provide findings and baseline data to guide the study as well as contribute to empirical literature for future studies.
5.0 Conclusion and Recommendation
With the current farming population consisting largely of the aged and barely literate farmers, the need to attract the youth becomes even more compelling. Most rural youths do not foresee a prosperous future for themselves in the agriculture sector, mostly because of lack of physical and social infrastructure in rural areas. These infrastructures are necessary in order to keep youths in the field as well as promote their interests in agriculture.
Based on the result of the study, it was observed that several factors inhibit youths from taking to agriculture in Benue State. However, the study also identified 17 strategies that can encourage youth participation in agricultural production enterprises. This will create employment opportunities for the youth, reduce social vices and encourage food security in the State and Nigeria as a whole.
- Efforts should be made to integrate the views of youths into developmental efforts in order to address the actual needs of the youths, thus making agricultural development planning and management sensitive to their needs.
- Appropriate and inclusive financial services can equip youth with the resources and support to become productive and economically active members of their agricultural households and communities. Non-refundable grants, incentives and start-up capital for promoting rural youth entrepreneurship are instruments of critical importance.
- The use of innovative information and communication technologies (ICTs) should be promoted among youths and purposive media campaign aimed at uplifting the face of agriculture from playing the second fiddle to other professions to being the main player of the economy.
- Enhancement of youth’s knowledge through the establishment of new Agricultural training centers and strengthening of existing ones.
Agricultural Youth Sensitive Policies; The Way Forward In Enhancing Youths Inclination Towards Agriculture
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