Covid-19 and the Future of Youth in Agriculture
In the past few weeks, I have asked myself questions on the future of Nigerian youth in agriculture post the coronavirus pandemic. Will there be an increase in youth migration to developed countries like Canada where governments have given mouth-watering palliatives to businesses and individuals or Germany, which has so far handled the pandemic well? I ponder, will an increasing number of young people suddenly take advantage of opportunities in the agricultural sector, subsequently increasing the industry players and investors? Only time will tell, but which of the two scenarios do you think will yield greater economic returns to the country?
I believe an increase in the number of young people in agriculture will indicate greater benefits to the country. Of course, my choice may be linked to my bias of being an agricultural economist in Nigeria. Conversely, proponents of ‘remittances as a source of economic growth’ may prescribe youth migration as a better option for Nigeria considering the high rate of youth unemployment. Remittances represent about 6% of the Nigerian GDP; thus, one could be motivated to think “nah, agriculture is not the way out.” Many people, especially youth, believe that agriculture and poverty run parallel and would prefer not to engage in the sector. However, agriculture is profitable, and it has the capacity to reduce youth unemployment and stimulate economic growth. Besides, the agricultural sector contributed greatly to stimulating the growth of many current developed countries, including Canada and Germany, and evidence suggests that the woes of the Nigerian agricultural sector are linked to lack of innovation among many other factors. So, for Nigeria to rise there is an urgent need to transform the agricultural sector. And who else can drive change and innovation if not the youth?