UNIDO seeks more investment in agriculture

The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation on Thursday called for a more pragmatic approach that would help to stimulate the growth of agribusiness in Nigeria.

The UNIDO Regional Director and Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Patrick Kormawa, made the call in Abuja while speaking at a two-day workshop on the development of policy guidelines to engage women and the youth in agribusiness.

He said the approach should be anchored on youth and women entrepreneurship as this would help to promote modern form of agriculture.

This, he noted, would help to resolve the economic, social, cultural and security challenges currently facing the country.

Kormawa said, “Over the past 10 years, the number of youths aged 15 to 24 in Africa has increased from 133 million to 172 million. It is projected that by 2020, that figure is expected to rise to 246 million. This youth bulge could significantly tilt the current social dynamics positively or in a negative direction as shown in the recent North Africa uprisings.

“It is now widely recognised that inclusive growth and development, job creation, significant reduction in unemployment and poverty must be addressed simultaneously to achieve the sustainable growth and development we all want.

“Investing in agribusiness has been singled out as one way to achieve prosperity in Africa. However, stimulating growth of agribusiness is anchored on youth and women entrepreneurship.”

He added that effective participation of the youth and women as entrepreneurs in the agric sector was essential for job creation, poverty alleviation, gender equality and economic empowerment.

Kormawa said, “There are several programmes and projects working to support youths and women in agribusiness. Our experience from several African countries shows that despite the huge investments to this effect, the number of youths taking up agribusiness as profession is not commensurate with the investment.

“In other words, the number of sustainable and decent jobs created in agriculture has not been encouraging, particularly for the educated youth. For this to happen, agriculture needs to be profitable and must provide dignity for women and youths.”

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, said the workshop was particularly relevant in view of the high unemployment rate in sub-Saharan Africa.

The minister said having recognised the recent youth restiveness, security challenges and the abject poverty facing women, the government had decided to revitalise its employment generation strategies to solve the problem of youth unemployment and gender equality.

He said, “With the high involvement of women in agriculture, developing the sector and improving access to productive resources for women is the surest way to achieve food and nutrition as well as other Millennium Development Goals.

“Therefore, we must have the political will to channel the required resources to youth development in order to set Africa on the path of sustainable development.”

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