What do you do with a degree in Agriculture after five years of study?  Here is a viable business option for the smart: go into the business of terrorism, it pays better.  

At least that’s what a student told me a few days ago when we, members of ACTIVISTA BENUE were in a university in central Nigeria for an outreach programme. The outreach was aimed at mobilizing, building partnerships and alliance with the students who are part of our core constituency. These efforts are streamlined into building Activista Nigeria into a movement of young people, empowered to participate, influence political decision-making and governance processes. In summary, to end poverty. It was really an interesting time. We had sodas and music but something interesting happened while on my way back home, I met a final year student of the university.

We rode in the same Keke-tricycle back to town. Trying to strike a conversation I said: “So after school what’s up? Are you considering going into full-time agricultural business? You know that can be a way of solving the food problem of Nigeria. In addition, as a product of the prestigious University of Agriculture Makurdi, you should sure not disappoint.”

Felix smiled and said: “I will never be a farmer! Not because I don’t want to have dust under my nails but because it’s not profitable. Going into agricultural business in this country for me is waste of time, energy and resources.  Terrorism pays better than agriculture in Nigeria.”

 Terrorism pays better than agriculture in Nigeria.

Hard was the shock that hit me “I strongly disagree with you.” I was quick to snap back: “What do you mean, please explain?”

“Think my friend, consider the Amnesty programme, those so called ex-militants are being paid every month for doing nothing. Add the total amount of what they get in a year, it’s far more than the cumulative annual income of the average Nigerian farmer. Now Boko Haram is throwing bombs everywhere and the government is calling them to the negotiation table. What they want is amnesty, free money. Am pretty sure the government will soon start paying them too. I have told everyone who cares to listen; I will never be a farmer because it does not pay.”

I was silent as I simply could not fetch the words to strike back. When I finally found my voice, I said: “You have a strong point; these are the obstacles we are faced with as young people growing up but if everyone chooses not to be a farmer, who then will grow the food that we would eat?”

“Someone must grow the food and who says it must be me?” Felix retorted.

Someone must grow the food and who says it must be me?

Need I say more? Young people are not satisfied with our government’s response to agriculture. The sector is a conduit for milking the public till and an outpost for making more money for the wealthy. Largely, Nigeria’s agriculture is still very primitive, uninteresting and hence will not attract the attention of young people.

A nation battling with hunger does not need this kind of reaction from her future. Nigerians might not be suffering from extreme hunger, but the question of food security and unemployment is not about to fade out soon. With the increasing numbers of young people without jobs, the frontiers of their vulnerability are continually expanding.

 

I have heard the oft recycled phrase, “this administration is committed to creating jobs for our teaming youth…” So here is the answer, let us invest where we have the comparative advantage, agriculture.  Majority of Nigerians especially those domiciled in the rural areas are dependent on subsistence agriculture for livelihood, this would a good place to start job creation.

Let us invest where we have the comparative advantage, agriculture.  Majority of Nigerians especially those domiciled in the rural areas are dependent on subsistence agriculture for livelihood, this would a good place to start job creation.