Youth involvement crucial to successful agriculture intervention programs
A study was carried out to evaluate the impact of the N-power Agro program on youth employment and income generation in some parts of rural Nigeria. Adewale Ogunmodede did this research under the IITA-implemented Enhancing Capacity to Apply Research Evidence (CARE) in Policy for Youth Engagement in Agribusiness and Rural Economic Activities in Africa project, which is sponsored by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The study covered three states in the southwest of Nigeria and explored the state of youth participation in agribusiness activities in rural areas.
Nigeria has the largest youth population in Africa, and yet multiple reports show that the average age of farmers in the country is between 50 and 60 years. The government strategically targets young people to encourage their participation in agriculture and agribusiness because the declining agricultural production is diminishing the hope of attaining food security in the country by 2050.
Looking at the N-Power Agro program, which promotes employment opportunities for youth in the agricultural sector, Ogunmodede explored the regional growth analysis of youth labor and employment trends in Nigeria. He focused on the emergence of agribusinesses while evaluating the impact of the program to generate income and create employment for the beneficiaries through their participation.
The study revealed that young people involved in agriculture during the production season often take up non-farm jobs to ensure stable income during the off-season.
According to Ogunmodede, Nigeria’s agricultural value chain is slowly evolving with limited diversification in an environment that still undermines progress. This situation highlights the need for policies and interventions that will ensure that the youth are actively involved in agriculture all year round to achieve food security.
Despite attempts by the government to improve rural livelihood, provide employment, and ensure food security through agricultural development initiatives, most of these programs have had little or no impact on the lives of the youth. Corruption, inconsistency in policies, and an implementation approach that does not prioritize the grassroots are the main reasons for this failure.
Ogunmodede states, “It is crucial for policy makers to know that policies should target youth as partners and leaders in development. Policy development should be a collaborative intervention that will ensure youth are fully consulted and integrated into the decision-making process.”
The study also recommends that the government incorporates the beneficiaries of these initiatives as produce-suppliers to the home-grown school feeding program, and a policy development approach that involves the youth.
The IITA-CARE project is addressing youth unemployment and involvement in rural and non-rural economies by funding young researchers across Africa. The resulting studies are the basis for policy briefs that are used to engage parliamentarians in Africa to ensure that effective policies are drafted to address these development areas.