The Ogun State Commissioner for Agriculture, Adepeju Adebajo has urged youths to exploit opportunities in agriculture and agribusiness.
Speaking at the second day of the Ogun State Youth Convention under the theme “Ogun Youths: Exploring New frontiers” noted that it was important for youths to begin to seek viable ventures in the agricultural sector to invest for the future.
According to Adebajo, “agriculture is the key to building wealth for generations to come. It is not just limited to crop farming, it’s about livestock, fishery, forestry so agriculture is very broad. It’s about everything from seeds to production to processing, marketing, packaging to distribution”.
She explained that agriculture was beyond food, highlighting other aspects, such as horticulture, landscaping, apiculture as well as the environment.
“When you talk about agriculture, you also talk about the environment and sustainability, the more trees you grow the less you are depleting the ozone layer, there’s plenty of money out there for people who are practicing agriculture in a sustainable manner, you differentiate yourself again. There are many people who are doing organic farming, who are keeping bees, selling organic honey; there are lots of opportunities in agriculture and in the agribusiness. So please don’t look at agriculture in the traditional way you thought of agriculture, it has moved on and there’s so much opportunities”.
Speaking further on the importance of agriculture, the commissioner expressed that agriculture had greater potential to provide employment more than other sectors as one involved in agribusiness automatically became an employer of labour.
“It is eleven times more effective in generating employment than other careers. So you become a farmer or you become somebody involved in agriculture, you automatically become an employer of labour”, she said.
Adebajo pointed that though funding was often seen as a challenge, there were various intervention programs such as the anchor borrowers scheme and youth empowerment initiatives designed to empower youths who want to invest in the agriculture sector. She also highlighted state projects such as the model farm in Owowo, where young people where trained in livestock and crop farming as well as the Eruwe fish cluster.
“We have a model farm in Owowo, it’s a model farm estate, there are 40 bungalows occupied by 40 graduate farmers, this is a youth empowerment initiative of the state and it’s aimed at unemployed young graduates of agricultural disciplines. Those farmers are very successful and they now have businesses in poultry and egg production, catfish farming and crop farming”, she stated.
She noted that there were also non-government intervention programmes for those interested in the agriculture business, adding that there were opportunities across the various value chains.
The commissioner however called on the youths to take advantage of these programmes and exploit opportunities in agriculture.