Commercial Vegetable Farming, a goldmine!
A few decades ago, whether because of the dominance of large-scale enterprises or general apathy, a startling trend became to develop: young people never wanted to farm.
Only a few percent of Nigeria’s farmers are between the ages of 25 and 35, Meanwhile, farmers over the age of 65 make up over 70 percent of the farming
population. The mean age of a farmer in Nigeria is 60.
Farming has been on the decline since the late 20th century when the attention of the federal government was shifted from Agriculture to Oil. This number is expected to drop considerably, as over 55 percent of the nation’s farmers will be retired by the year 2020.
The need for new blood in farming is surprising considering that farmers markets and organic products are incredibly popular, especially amongst young people. People are interested in food but not in its production! Couple that with high youth unemployment rates and we may be looking at agriculture as the next big job market for young people .
There has already been signs of growing support for the farming lifestyle. Young Nigerians are beginning to embrace farming as a means of creating employment for themselves and help to sustain their families as they have no choice due to the increasing rate of unemployment!
But despite the growing need and a burgeoning interest, young farmers face several huge obstacles, including a dire lack of capital and land to farm. Over 70 percent of farmers depend on off-farm income to survive, and the price per acre of farm land have doubled due to urbanisation over the last 10 years.
A lack of health care also hurts prospective farmers.
Farming ranks as the fourth most dangerous occupation in the country, and young farmers often must choose between health care and paying for their farm.
I suggest that the Government as well as the Private sector create initiatives to help youths break into the industry, including improving access to capital and credit and providing support and education initiatives, such as apprenticeships and scholarships to those interested in studying Agriculture or Agric business Management courses in Various institutions and grants should be provided for research into high yielding crops and animals.
This will go in a long way to reduce the level of unemployment among Youths which is increasing at a geometric rate!
To the youths interested in Agriculture and actually into one form of agric in the value chain, keep up the good work you are on the right track. To those Agric graduates who are running away from Agric and other unemployed Youths, I plead you consider Agric as a means of sustainable development because Agriculture is the only profession that affects all areas of the economy!