BY ROSEMARY NWAEBUNI
Stakeholders in the Delta State project have been urged to synergize with government and youths to boost agriculture with a view to enhancing the state’s food security programme.
The call was made by the Commissioner for Youth Development, Comrade Ifeanyi Egwunyenga at the Master Class programme organized by the Ministry of Youth Development in commemoration of the 2021 International Youth Day with the theme: “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health”.
Egwunyenga harped on the need for inclusive support mechanisms that will ensure increased youth participation in agriculture with improved agronomic practices, efficient value chain optimization and eco-friendly technologies in the transformation of food systems.
While urging youths to engage in innovative practices that would lead to sustainable agriculture and improve the environment in the face of the surging population, the commissioner stressed the need to address inequality and access to improved agro-inputs, poverty reduction, social inclusion, health care, biodiversity conservation and climate change migration among others.
In his lecture at the event, titled: “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health”, Hon. Samuel Mariere, noted that some schools of thought believed that economic value of food production involved two to three basic steps: planting, consumption, and sales of farm produce to the primary consumers. He added that the younger segment of the population believed that only the old and uneducated should be involved in farming.
He said that in transforming the food system, the younger segment must be involved, adding value through creation of innovations that would safeguard the earth system, noting that most of the methods currently applied in agricultural production had impacted negatively on aquatic lives including erosion of soil nutrients, destruction of the ecosystem and chemicalization of crop products, resulting in numerous health challenges across the globe.
He urged youths to add value in transforming the food production system by creating innovations devoid of these negative impacts, stressing that methods such as the use of gamarline 20 for fishing, chemicals for weeding and pesticides seriously deplete the quantum of agricultural production.
Speaking on his lecture titled, Youth in Agriculture: Challenges and Concrete Solutions, Dr. Eric Nwachukwu noted that Nigeria’s agricultural landscape was primarily driven by the private sector, adding that 80 per cent of them were subsistent farmers who produced over 90 per cent of the farm produce consumed in Nigeria.
He explained that 90 per cent of the farm produce in Nigeria wasted annually either because they were either sold below market value or lack appropriate storage facilitieswhile over 70 per cent of food produce never made it to main stream markets where their purchasing power is high.
While noting that the gap was necessitated by a lag in supply chain management, he urged the youths to step up in developing apps for the marketing of farm products. He added that government alone cannot fund agriculture and urged non-governmental organizations to key in by funding youths in agriculture.
Arch Joy Enamokwu in her lecture, ‘Boosting Agricultural Productivity in Delta State’, noted that many youths jettison agriculture for white collars job due to various challenges encountered and urged them to make Agriculture inviting by being creative in solving the challenges.