Harnessing the potential of rural youth for sustainability of agriculture: Insight from Northern Nigeria
Active involvement of youth in all agri-food value chains is necessary for the sustainability of agriculture
Agriculture contributes significantly to the livelihood of Sub-Saharan countries in Africa and is a viable engine for welfare and economic development. Besides constraints related to the growing environmental conditions (e. g. climatic and edaphic) in the region, agriculture appears to be a less attractive career path among the youth due to the poor incentives or their lack within the value chain. Three major constraints seem to make agriculture less attractive to rural youth that include, (1) limited participation in knowledge and competency-building opportunities, (2) difficulty of acquiring land due to unfavorable inheritance laws and customs in developing countries, and (3) inadequate access to financial institutions and markets.
When the agri-food system, relevant institutions, and development interventions provide the required incentives, enabling environments, together with the policies aligned with youth aspirations, the potential of youth can be leveraged to reinforce agricultural development and economic growth in the region. These aspirations are personal expectations and career goals, with noted differentiation within the youth as a group.
To this end, a group of Gender Scientists from the International Crops Research Institute in the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in partnership with the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) in Zaria, Nigeria, and the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals engaged and evaluated youth involvement in agri-food value chains in three states in Northern Nigeria including Gombe State and Bauchi State located in the North-Eastern part, and Kano State in the North-West. This study aimed to understand,(1) the career and entry points of youth in Nigeria`s agri-food system, and (2) factors hindering youth from taking up opportunities in the agricultural sector?