Lack of knowledge and information, not funding have been identified as major factors discouraging youths from engaging in agriculture. The Founder of Agribusiness NG, African Farmer Mogaji, who said this during a training held at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, to educate 5,000 youths with requisite information on how to access funding, noted that money is not an issue in agriculture, as there are lots of funding opportunities available, but the challenge remains the fact that people are not informed.
“We have a lot of government funding that people are not asking for. We have a lot of international donor companies that have the funds available, but we are not asking them. GIZ has a lot of funding. Like the IFAD/International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), they are training 3400 youths. Funding is not an issue. “The private sector is looking for where to put money. What we need to do is to access more information. When we access information then we will be able to fund the sector,” he added. Mogaji revealed that in the last four years, Agribusiness NG has been exposing youths and other people to opportunities in the Agric sector. “Right now, we are aware that there is N22b given by Mastercard Foundation in the care of Sterling Bank, but the bank is having some challenges with the youths accessing it.
“Everybody is shouting about government and no opportunity but the N22b is lying fallow for almost two years. We are here to create awareness to let them know how to access the funding; the logistics involved what the money is for and the different forms of agriculture they can go into.
“Primarily, we need our youths to be more exposed to know the opportunity available. We are saying there is no food, and that the cost of food is rising, but this money is sitting down. We brought the youths together to train them to access these funds”
He told the youths there was a place for them in agriculture, irrespective of their professions or skills,
The Chief Executive Officer of Catofoods, Atinuke Lebile, also advised the youths to tap into any of the various value chains in the sector. “There are various value chains in agriculture that you can tap into – logistics, marketing, and so on, you must find your area of interest in the agricultural space and go for it.”
She also urged them to find a mentor who is working in their areas of interest to put them through in whatever they are doing. The Managing Partner of Prasinos Farms and the Operations Manager of Aqua Shoots Nigeria Limited, Abiodun Olorundero, enjoined the youths on the need to understand that agriculture is the way to go in the country and the continent.
He said all the information acquired during the training should not be trashed, as it is time to act because, with agriculture, they can be who they want to be.
Also, the Customer Service Executive of Agricare Standard Plus Limited, Sobowale Opeyemi, encouraged the youths to see reasons to go into agriculture.
He charged them to open up their minds to new things, as there are opportunities everywhere if they open their minds.