Youths brainstorm on ways to improve participation in agric

Youths in the agriculture sector in Abuja have met to deliberate on ways to drive the youth agenda on environment and agriculture in country.

The meeting tagged : ‘’National Youth Round Table on National Youth Manifesto on Agriculture,’’ was convened to discuss a blueprint to guide the government on the needs of youths.

The Chief Executive Offi cer of Fresh and Young Brains Development Initiative, an NGO, Nkiruka Nnamego, said that the meeting was necessary to push forward the youths’ demands from the government.

‘’The idea is for us to push forward the youth agenda because we realised that young people constitute over 60 per cent of the Nigerian population. There is nothing we can do without getting young people involved.

‘’We are complaining about the unemployment rate, we are complaining about the insecurity in the country; of course, there is food insecurity as well. So, if we must promote all these in a positive way, we need to mainstream young people into what the government is doing; the projects, that is, the Agricultural Transformation Agenda. We need to involve every Civil Society Organisation, the private sector and the media,’’ she said.

Nnamego explained that the project, which started in July 2013, in collaboration with Oxfam Nigeria, was targeted to campaign for the `Right to Food Bill’.

She added that it was also to campaign for the implementation of the Maputo Declaration on agriculture and food security.

‘’The Nigerian Government has endorsed this declaration and the declaration asked for 10 per cent budgetary allocation to agriculture, but at the moment, Nigeria is below three per cent.

‘’We feel that at the moment that there is a need for us to support what the government is doing to ask for more investment in agriculture.

‘’There is also a need to promote small-scale agriculture because that is where children, women and the youths come in.’’ she said.

One of the participants, Bridget Osakwe, a representative of West Africa Network for Peace Building in Nigeria, an NGO, noted that there was the need for youths in the country to put in more efforts toward making a difference.

‘’Youths are responsible for the change we need and the energy to drive this country forward is in them. We need that energy in the agriculture sector; we need people who will monitor the money that is consistently being allocated to agriculture,’’ she said.

She advised young females in the rural areas to follow the footsteps of their mothers to participate in production, since women were recognised as contributing most in food production.

This, she added, would guarantee the future of the next generation.

Another participant, Thomas Tormen, the Programme Manager, Nigerian Association of Women in Agriculture, North Central zone, emphasised the need for the implementation of government policies in the rural areas.

He noted that much agricultural activities were ongoing at the grassroots and so new agricultural initiatives must target specifi c regions or states for full implementation.

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