ACHIEVING YOUTH EMPLOYMENT FOR NAGROPRENUERS: THE 21ST CENTURY APPROACH BY A 21ST CENTURY DYNAMIC AGRICULTURE MINISTER. BY COMRADE OGIRINYE INNOCENT 08077686333.
It was a historic moment that marks the end of the old bureaucracy; it signifies the redefinition of a path in our National history as well as the beginning of a new chapter for teeming Nigerian Youths in Agricultural sector. On Thursday the 20th to Friday the 21st September 2012 witnessed the gathering of over a hundred stakeholders from different academic and professional background who converged at the instance of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Abuja for a Technical workshop for the Design of the Presidential Initiative for Youth Employment in Agriculture with a caption: ACHIEVING YOUTH EMPLOYMENT FOR NAGROPRENUERS. The participants at this event were mostly Nigerian Youths cutting across diverse professions especially those from the Agricultural discipline to say what they want and in what best format they want it. It was indeed a programme of the Youth, for the youth and by the youth as the young participants under the guidance of few older stakeholders in the sector (who were there to sharpened their ideals for sustainability) suggested how best their lack of interest in Agriculture can be revived and sustained. The identified problems militating against Youth participation in Agriculture along which the thematic session for the workshop were formed was not designed by the Ministry, it was done by some few Youth leaders who formed the National Steering Committee for the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP), this I was opportune to be a member and which was set up devoid of politics.
This is the first time in our recent past that the Beneficiaries of a policy were given the chance to say what their challenges are and how best the problems can be solved with a keen interest from the man who holds the pen.
The Honourable Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of State for Agriculture, the Permanent Secretary and several other top functionaries in the Agricultural sector were among the audience listening to the young dynamic, creative and innovative Nigerian Youths present the ideal solutions to their problems as rightly identified by their colleagues at the Steering Committee. What a show of humility, passion for result, and I dare ask: how many Ministers today will take their seat at the back and see the younger ones suggest to them what they want and how they want it?
I saw at the extreme end of the audience seats, two dynamic 21st century Ministers of Agriculture, with a 21st century bureaucracy to address the 21st century challenges of Nigeria using their sector.
The Honourable Minister of Agriculture in his opening and closing remarks reiterated his commitment to achieving the Agricultural Transformation Agenda, he emphasized that the era of old age farmers need to be over, that subsistence agriculture has to give way to youth driven commercial Agriculture and our hard Naira currency use on food importation has to be redistributed among our farmers, enough is enough for the continue stay of our youth on the street of joblessness while we keep the youths of the countries where we do our food import out of street. To him the time for the over haul of Nigeria Agriculture can not be better than now and Agriculture must be treated as business and no more a developmental project.
In his speech and actions, I see a passionate commitment to achieve results instead of the usual politics, behind a smile of fine gentle man, I see hope for Nigerian youths, I see a future for Agricultural graduates to be proud of their profession again, to say to the entire world I am a NAGROPRENEURE. He is a stakeholder whose voice represents the voices and language of the Youths. The aspirations of new Nigeria where food security and Youth employment will be guarantee through Agriculture. To many fellow youths that I interacted with at the workshop he is an inspiration to them, he drives the vision of Youth Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture (YISA), my dream and to me a role model.
Among several solutions suggested by the youths ranging from Improved Access to land, Credits, Educational support for future Agricultural Scientist, Youth farm Rehabilitation, Include youth in Input Production, Research and Development, Rural Infrastructure, the Improved Access to land thematic session advocates for Retirement Age from the Farm Cities to be set up to pave way for continues youth participation in Farming.
The workshop was not just an opportunity for youths to say what they want, it was also an opportunity for Youth –In – Agriculture and other related Organizations and individuals to share their experiences, ideals and networked for other mutual and enhanced participation in the Agricultural value chain. Youth Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture (YISA) was not left out in the entire process.