In the wake of the unemployment crisis in Nigeria, many graduates have resolved to farming as means of providing jobs for themselves in what is impressively drawing agriculture back to the discussion dashboard as a viable alternative in terms of job provision.
In what is an annual trend, a teeming legion of Nigerian youths leaves higher institutions without knowing what the future holds due to the terribly shrinking labour market space of the country.
The hope of securing a sustainable job in the labour market is not as open as it used to be in the past. And according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), a government agency responsible for the publishing of stats in its Q2 report, the unemployment rate in Nigeria is estimated to be 32.5%.
Chronological data projects there is a probability that this figure will increase further in subsequent quarters till 2022 - and even beyond.
With a limited chance of white-collar jobs for the school leavers, Legit.ng notes that Nigerian youths have been reviving interest in agriculture and making it a full-time occupation.
Agriculture makes me million naira - 27-year-old Agricprenuer
Like other Nigerians, Segun Adegoke never dreamed he would end up becoming a farmer who would be massively contributing to the growth of food in Nigeria.
But his earlier exposure to farming at a young age - thanks to his grandmother who was a trader and farmer - made him channel his interest to agriculture after leaving university and upon his completion of his mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Kano state.
Adegoke, who now owns a thriving agricultural firm called Baay Farms, based in Lagos, exclusively told Legit.ng that farming has made him a millionaire at age 27, and he is meeting kings and top people in the country.
He advised Nigerian graduates who are still looking for white-collar jobs to consider interest in agriculture.
“I would therefore like to enjoin my fellow Nigerian youths that we should stop putting all our hopes in one basket by always wanting to wear a shirt and a tie but vigorously and purposefully look at Farming as it is a long term turning point in a man’s life.
“This is because human beings cannot stop eating, else we want to die. Even if the country enters recession, agriculture will still be in full force.”
From university to farmland: Ezeani is making agriculture a new oil
Upon graduating from the Imo State University (IMSU), 32-year-old Chiemezie Ezeani was posted to Bauchi state for his NYSC. It was there he was motivated to begin life as a farmer.
Chiemezie, who hails from Umuezeonyima Umuago-Urualla, Ideato-North in Imo, said he started cultivating during his service year.
Speaking with Legit.ng, Ezeani said in Bauchi where he served in 2018, he grew beans and corn which he brought back to the east for sale upon completion of his NYSC.
In 2020, he said he experimented farming in his hometown with 50 tubers and though the result was not so nice, it raised his hopes and encouraged him.
He stated that with an enabling environment and necessary support, farming and support will become the new oil in the country.
Biochemists planting farm produce “in the air”
Samuel Ogbegbe from Edo state was trained as a biochemist at the Igbinedion University and continued to obtain his MSc in the same course.
In addition to other certifications, he holds a degree in disruptive strategy from Harvard Business School, Boston, USA.
Now making differences in agriculture, the current postgraduate student of machine learning and artificial intelligence at the University of Texas, Austin, USA, grows crops in the air.
According to him, this is to ensure that food production is not seasonal.
He told Legit.ng
“I decided to grow crops in the air so as to ensure that food production is not seasonal, because hunger isn't seasonal. My decision was also to see that food crops are affordable, healthy, as well as stable.
“Hydroponics and aeroponics (the method of growing crops in the air) require 24 hours electricity to run but thanks to the help of some colleagues in the farming industry, there are alternative systems we use in place of the electricity."
Leaving UK to become a farmer in Nigeria
Living in the United Kingdom is one of the top dreams of Nigerian graduates. Many believe it is where they can explore their potentials and be useful to society and their profession.
Ironically, a Nigerian lady identified as Ashley relocated back from the UK to venture into agriculture.
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In an interview with Vlogger Tayo Aina seen by Legit.ng, the young lady admitted that life in Nigeria since her return has not been easy as she has had to struggle with so many things but at the end of the day, her resolve keeps her going.
The female farmer who does her farming business in Jos engages majorly in the strawberry cultivation business.
Other produce she farms on are cabbage, lettuce, rose among others. Ashley maintains that transportation is the major challenge she faces as a farmer.
This is because her major farm produces - strawberry - requires a cool environment and getting it to a far location like Lagos by road is not suitable as there is no provision for cooling the strawberries.
Government’s effort and need for massive youth participation in farming
With a population of over 200 million according to the World Bank majorly constituted by youth who are mostly graduates, Nigeria is facing a crisis of providing sustainable employment for its citizens.
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Against this backdrop, the federal government through the Ministry of Agriculture is prioritising interest in agriculture by encouraging youth to dominate the once engaged sector.
In January 2021, the federal government gave approval to the National Agricultural and Land Development Agency (NALDA) to permanently employ some 30,000 agricultural and other science graduates to handle soil tests and other responsibilities for the agency.
While this is a huge step towards tackling the food crisis and unemployment, more needs to be done by the government to ensure that youth, especially graduates, are naturally endeared to agriculture.
This can be achieved through special training for school leavers on agriculture as part of their NYSC. Besides, the provision of loans and collaboration with world-leading organisations to empower youth on farming should be prioritised.