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Unemployment level, a Time Bomb

Posted by | March 25, 2013 | News

Former President  Olusegun Obasanjo has said Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gun power because of its high unemployment  rate.

He  said this  while delivering the 16th Annual Lecture of the Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute in Ilorin, Kwara State on Thursday.

Obasanjo identified the development of the agricultural  sector as not only capable of providing massive jobs for the country’s teeming   youths but  boosting the foreign exchange earnings.

The former President said, “The number of Nigerian universities is going to about 150 now, we have a problem. The students coming out of the universities do not have hope of getting employment. This means we are sitting on a keg of gun powder. An idle hand is the devil’s workshop. But a hopeless idle hand is a tinder box.”

Obasanjo, who spoke on ‘Managing agriculture as a business: A practitioner’s perspective,’ said agriculture should be seen as business.

He said in Nigeria, the development of agriculture and its ability to become the lifeline of the economy were threatened by the low capacity of agrobusiness owners to manage their enterprises.

Obasanjo added that the trend  could  be reversed  if  agrobusiness operators began to   acquire  management skills for their businesses.

He advised   Nigerian farmers and agro-business owners to take advantage of the services provided by ARMTI in order to  advance in the sector.

He said the impression that agriculture is a pastime requiring little or no business and management skills should be discarded.

Obasanjo, who  added that there should be focus on the business side of agriculture,  stated that as the world continued to  evolve, there existed a number of opportunities for developing agriculture as a business.

He noted that a critical opportunity  was  the rapid growth in world population.

According to him, current estimates indicate that there are over seven billion people in the world today, all of who depend on one agricultural produce or the other to survive.

He noted that yet, nearly one billion people  have no access  to adequate food and nutrition Obasanjo said, “In less than four decades  from now, world population is expected to grow to over nine billion, significantly increasing the demand for food and other agricultural produce.  Some projections show that  global food production would need to jump to 70 per cent or  100 per cent to feed a population of nine billion in 2050.

“The World Economic Forum recognises that in order to achieve this, the world will need a New Vision for Agriculture – delivering food security, environmental sustainability and economic opportunities through agriculture.”

Obasanjo said this new agriculture vision was hinged on developing a shared agenda for action and fostering multi-stakeholder collaboration to achieve sustainable agricultural growth through market-based solutions.

He added that, in essence, the task of meeting the world’s food demand now and in the future rested  on the  shoulders of small, medium and large scale farmers all over the world, especially in Africa.

“The question now is how seriously are Africans, or to be specific Nigerian farmers taking this challenge?  If the success of our agro-entreprises depends  on how efficient we are as managers, what management strategies are we adopting to reduce costs and increase agricultural yield? Are there lessons we can share with one another on managing agriculture as a business?” he said.

According to him, for decades, since 1960, when most African states gained independence , the continent had witnessed stagnating or declining per capital income  and agricultural output although it holds about 60 per cent of global uncultivated land.

He said with roughly  60 per cent of the region’s labour, and 90 per cent of the region’s poor, currently working directly in agriculture, it is difficult to imagine how significant poverty reduction in Africa could  occur without increased productivity in agriculture.

Chief Executive of ARMTI, Mr. Samuel Afolayan, said agriculture should be taken more seriously.

Source: Punch Nigeria