Director General of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILS) has called for the establishment of agricultural villages in order to tackle the problem of unemployment and the boost food production.
Prof. Ladi Hamalai made the recommendation at a one-day agro-investment policy dialogue with legislators in the House of Representatives and agric researchers.
She believed that if the country adequately tapped into agric potentials massive jobs would be created in the sector, saying Nigeria must take fast steps to translate agriculture into jobs and into food.
“Nigeria may be World most populous country in 2050 and we stand a huge risk if we don’t grow agriculture through agric villages so as to create jobs.
“The Federal Government should partner donor agencies to create agricultural villages to attract youths to come into agriculture.
“We can establish them in all the geo political zobes. Even if it is one that can be established, youths and investors will come in and it will grow from there.
“We also need to link research with policy and policy implementation using the agric villages to drive the implementation,” she said.
Prof. Hamalai suggested the establishment of agricultural villages will not only attract youths and thereby creating jobs but will also help provide adequate food especially in view of the projected population growth by 2050.
She is optimistic that Nigeria’sNational Assembly will assist the institute in passing the right laws that will drive the policies.
National Assembly to partner with Research communities
Expressing their support for the institute’s move, House of Representatives, submitted that agricultural sector opens a wide of opportunities for Nigeria to tap into.
Speaking at the meeting, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Agricultures, Hon. Mohammed Monguno said that the meeting will provide a platform for partnership between the National Assembly and Research communities.
“Less than 40 per cent of Nigeria’s 84 million hectares of arable land are cultivated while over 19 million youths remain unemployed.
“This may be as a result of underdeveloped agricultural value chain, weak institutions, gross underfunding, policy inconsistencies, poor infrastructure, unconducive operating environment among others.
“This dialogue will afford the legislature and researchers to interact and discuss the various findings from research carried out by NILDS and other partners.
“Budgetary allocations to the agricultural sector has been less around 2 per cent for several years and this is a far cry from the 10 per cent bench mark in the Maputo Declaration,” he said.
Agriculture should have been the biggest driving force of Nigeria’s economy, but there has been overzealous concentration on crude oil since oil was discovered in Oloibri.
The present administration since inception has been trying to change that, and in one of its youth empowerment programmes, it created “N-power Agro” aimed at motivating young Nigerians to embrace agriculture.