Jan 12, 2018 in Analysis

Agriculture Training Needs Analysis Report: Youth in Nigeria

Most of the agricultural production in Nigeria is carried out by small scale farmers dwelling in the rural communities. Nigerian agriculture is witnessing a major change as compared to the 1960s when the soil boom took place in the country (Deji, 2011). The majority of Nigerian youth are neither interested in farming nor in agricultural profession. Many young people are leaving the rural areas to take up better and quick income generating activities. The inability of attaining agricultural revolution or increase the desire of the youth to take up agriculture is borne out by the continued rural-urban migration that has been happening over the last few decades. Employment opportunities for the youth continue to diminish, but the expansion of the agricultural sector will bring major improvements.

This study got its contributions from more than 150 participants. By the participants it was established that youths in Nigeria are enthusiastic to secure employment but they need to be assured that agriculture can be a better means of earning money. The paper explores why agriculture becomes unattractive option for young school leavers and the youth and how they can be engaged in order to adopt agriculture.  Agricultural training has to be revamped not only to make food available to millions of poor and hungry people but also to create opportunities for the youth to produce a variety of cash crops for the local and international markets.

Project Background

The need to address the issue of unemployment among the youth in Nigeria cannot be overlooked currently when the country is focusing on moving to a middle class economy. This project is about gathering intelligence, perceptions, opinions of shareholders, stakeholders and others about the current and future state of three main areas which include agriculture as an industry, youth, and agricultural training. This report is the first step to fulfilling the one year commitment in the enquiry and examination of the youth agriculture entrepreneur initiative for Nigeria. This project was conducted in a research format where a questionnaire was devised, interviews were conducted, searches online for past and present literature. Methodology, methods, findings are reported here.

The most important aspect of this project is the strategy to attract collaborating youth to take part in agricultural activities. The project will concentrate on activities that will improve agricultural training needs of the major cropping systems in the project areas. The volume of agricultural production in Nigeria is subject to sharp fluctuations and can be predicted with a wide margin of error.  

The response in production to new opportunities provided by the project will highly depend on the attitudes and decisions of the youth. The project will equip the youth with knowledge and skills for improved farm management. The training within the project will introduce special measures in order to influence the youth’s decisions in the direction desired. The report seeks to eliminate institutional rigidities hence policies aimed at increased production which have to be introduced gradually with a view to minimizing the dangers of suspicion and rejection.

The project highlights that the youths efforts to increase production and view agriculture as an entrepreneurial activity can be only as effective as the agrarian setting permits. This implies that appropriate measures must be taken within the project to have the constraints removed. 

Project Goals

Goal 1: To complete a thorough training needs analysis that addresses the current situation of youth and agriculture in Nigeria

The first goal of the project is to complete a thorough training needs analysis that accurately and succinctly articulates the current situation of the state of youth and agriculture in Nigeria. Within this objective, the project will help in the development of economically viable agricultural production systems, which enhance sustainable income for the youth while conserving the natural resources and strengthening their participation. The needs analysis will show the scarcity of investment funds available for agricultural development. 

Goal 2: To submit a report to the Rockefeller foundation panel for review and feedback and to provoke further discussion on strategies and innovative means of dealing with the youth and agriculture crisis

The second goal is to make a final submission to the Rockefeller foundation panel for review and feedback and to provoke further discussion on strategies and innovative means of dealing with the youth and agriculture crisis. This will enable the partners to establish youth organizations that support production and marketing activities of individual participants. The partners will come up with recommendations for research, extension and agricultural policy to increase productivity and expand acreage of perennial crops. This will help the youth to address the major technical constraints, which manifests in poor technology, poor quality of raw materials and inadequate supply of fertilizers. The partners ensure that youth get support from the government, increases their level of awareness through training and adequate research. 

Goal 2: To disseminate information to youth groups, academics, policy makers, NGOs, agricultural experts in form articles and presentations on how to integrate youth into agriculture

The third goal is to disseminate information to academics, policy influencers, NGOs, agriculture experts, youth groups and entrepreneurs in the form of articles and presentations. This will ensure that a study of trends in agricultural production, yields of crops and livestock products is conducted in order to give the youth a motivation of venturing into agriculture as an income generating activity. Information about farm prices and income, changes in the supply of agricultural requisites and the behavior of agricultural exports and imports will also be disseminated. Within this objective, a compendium of essential statistics of the economy and the agricultural sector will be conducted. An analytical presentation of the structural indicators of agricultural sector and the economy and their interrelationship will be conducted.

Agriculture Business Environment

Agriculture and industry remain largely separate entities within the national economy whereas a symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationship anticipated, remains a paradox (Dannson, 2004). This is because the Nigerian agriculture business environment is full of uncertainties and risks arising from several factors such as national and regional policies, infrastructure, regulatory environment, farm-level constraints and insufficient market information service. It is expected that there will be an accelerated growth in crop yields through land expansion. For other areas of agricultural production such as livestock, aquaculture, floral-culture and apiculture, growth is expected to come from productivity improvement.

Diao (2012) indicated that agriculture accounts for 4.2% of total government expenditure and this share will essentially go up to about 14.6% by 2015 and 18.6% by 2017 as youth venture in agriculture as a source of employment. The percentages in the different sectors imply that if the targets of individual sectors are attained in the next five years, the agricultural GDP will grow at more than 9.5% per annum (Diao, 2012). 

Crops

Crop production as a whole contributes 30.9% to accelerated agricultural development. Rice, on the other hand, contributes 14.5%. Cereal crops account of the second largest agricultural produce after root crops which account for 25.9%. Research shows that cassava is the second important player in root crops accounting for 14.1 while yam, on the other hand, contributing to 12.2% (Diao, 2012). To attain increased growth of both cereals, fruits and roots, Nigeria must grow 26% per year in the next five years.        

Livestock

In Nigeria, primary livestock production accounts for 6.5% of the country’s agricultural GDP. Diao (2012) says that poultry is expected to rise from 5.9% per year to 8.7% in a span of 5 years. The production of cattle, ship and goat recorded increased growth from 6.1% to 6.5% in the last 3 three years. According to Diao (2012), livestock is expected to contribute to 2.8% of the overall additional agricultural growth in the next 5 years. 

Aquaculture

Aquaculture has been assigned a high target. Diao (2012) says that the federal government agriculture ministry models fast growth in aquaculture at a rate of 12.9% each year. Recording such growth prospects means that aquaculture, which contributes to 3.5% of the agricultural GDP, is expected to generate 7% of the expected growth in agriculture (Diao, 2012). The price trends in the fishing industry are expected to affect market demand for fish in the country and at the same time generate more income for farmers.           

Floral-culture (flowers)

Although not well established in Nigeria, it is important to investigate how floral culture can contribute to the overall GDP of the country. It is expected that with modest growth, floral culture can contribute less than 1% to total additional agricultural growth (Diao, 2012). Floral-culture may not be significant for food security within the country since it is not a food crop but venturing to it can help in poverty reduction through direct and indirect employment and boosting the country’s revenue.          

Apiculture (beekeeping)

Apiculture can be a major source of income and its faster growth benefits the majority of households. Diao (2012) says that through venturing in apiculture, the youth will have an income generating activity, hence, reduce poverty levels in many regions of the country. Growth in beekeeping is not the same as growth in crops or livestock production because less land is required for apiculture when its yields increase (Diao, 2012).  When apiculture becomes more productive the entire agricultural subsectors and economy benefit. 

The table below shows the amount of GDP share (%) of various sectors in Nigeria. 

Type of Agricultural Activity

GDP Share (%)

Expected Annual Growth (%)

Cereals

7.7

9.5

Root Crops

9.4

9.5

Other food Crops

7.6

8.9

High value crops (Fruits)

1.5

6.2

Livestock

1.9

6.9

Aquaculture

1.0

8.9

Apiculture

0.5

2.0

Floral-culture

0.1

1.5

The graph below indicates the GDP (%) of various agricultural ventures and the expected annual growth (%) in the farming activities

State of Leadership and Governance

Current Pressing Political Issues in Nigeria

The current pressing issues are the need for strong political institutions that can withstand the threats posed by social and economic divisions. McCormick (2011) claims that in a society as diverse and unstable as Nigeria, it is difficult to distinguish indigenous political values from those created by the mix of African and European political traditions. The biggest issue to success lies in the core realities of Nigerian political culture which is multiethnic in nature (McCormick, 2011). Research shows that Nigerians find it hard to trust government officials, so they look instead to their communities for stability, and they believe that loyalty to the community is the paramount virtue. Although Nigeria in 2007 made the transition from one civilian government to another for the first time in its history, the elections were deeply flawed and the long-term prognosis remains uncertain.

Corruption

Corruption is perceived as a major bottleneck in Nigeriabecause in 2009, the country was ranked 147th out of 180 countries (Radwan &  Pellegrini, 2010). It is important to note that fewer firms in Nigeria perceive corruption to be major or very severe constraint to business. According to Radwan & Pellegrini (2010), this implies that while corruption remains a very serous problem in Nigeria, the abysmal image Nigeria has internationally may not be entirely justified when the statistics are considered. Looking at the evolution of corruption in Nigeria over the last five years, it can be noticed that the trend has been improving. It happens due to the efforts taken by the Nigerian government to fight against corruption through enacting of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act and the establishment of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

National Security Issues: Boko Haram

Seiple, Hoover & Otis (2012) affirm that Nigeria’s security challenges involving radical Islam are linked to the threats of violence in the northern part of the country. Religious and ethnic identities encourage hostility and suspicion between the 80 million Christians and 80 million Muslims in the country. Boko Haram poses a major national security threat because it is the only demonstration among the radical Islam that bitterly resents its perceived marginalization by Western Christian securitization and perceives injustices in the country’s political economy (Seiple, Hoover & Otis, 2012). For example, in 2010, the Boko Haram operatives attacked the central jail in Bauchi releasing 700 inmates including 150 Boko Haram members. By June 2012, Boko Haram had become a significant factor in Nigeria’s security concerns. The security concerns have adversely affected the establishment of agricultural activities in the northern part of Nigeria. 

Youth Rival

In Nigeria, there are large numbers of unemployed youths who are the products of secondary school system, as well as graduates of polytechnics and universities (Abba, 2009). The problem of youth unemployment is a major concern in Nigeria’s urban areas. When jobs are unavailable in the cities for secondary school graduates, the youth are reluctant to go back to the rural areas because the desirable types of jobs are not available in the rural areas. Lack of work places, in turn, leads to unemployment because of mass shifts of youth population to urban areas with no infrastructure.

Statistics indicate that youth unemployment range from 15% to 20%. Abba (2009) says that the youth in Nigeria 25-29 years of age are less economically active. Females are less economically active than males but all are more educated. Crime and the formation of gangs in Nigeria is the result of exclusion. At the same time, drugs and crime are closely related and they are becoming a new common denominator and threat to urban security in Nigeria.

Deji (2011) says that the majority of Nigerian youth are neither interested in farming nor in agricultural profession. As a result, many of the youths are leaving the rural areas to take up better and quick income generating activities. Youth are abandoning farming because of its poor returns associated with poor pricing of commodities. Also, poor post harvest technologies and lack of alternative market avenues for agricultural production are the major causes of the massive rural-urban migration of the youth. This has led to lack of interest in agricultural activities ensuing in decline in food production, particularly, by small scale farmers. Low motivation level of the youth in farming is associated with the fact that youth view agriculture as a labor intensive venture with low returns. 

Several youths give up trying to add value to their lives and to society. Hagher (2011) claims that they engage in disempowering actions like taking drugs and joining antisocial and criminal gangs. Nigeria cannot, therefore, dismiss the immense challenges faced by the youth. Hagher (2011) continues to say that young people’s behavior is conditioned by larger injustices like the inability to get admissions into post-secondary institutions,or to get jobs after graduation from universities.

Working Assumptions

The first assumption is that in the streets there are many youth who know their reality far better than anyone else and are, thus, in the best position to evaluate their own services. This will, therefore, be a perfect opportunity to combine their social work background with the youth’s interest in participation in the research. 

The second assumption is that the youth will be reluctant to trust any adult in authority, let alone a stranger and an academic. This will directly challenge the notion of neutrality or value free inquiry. The youth must have the opportunity to respond to some open-ended questions. It is important to assume that the youth will not hesitate because they will be insecure in the group and, therefore, reluctant to engage the wider population. 

The third working assumption is that youth will prefer qualitative methods of surveying because they are generally more compatible with such a setting and with social work practice such as agricultural training. The main issue here is not whether to involve the youth in the evaluation process but how to integrate with them.

The fourth assumption is that the youth will be in charge of the process and have access to agricultural land. In this context, therefore, the role of researchers is to facilitate and support that. The main intention in this assumption is to ensure that the youths reflect their knowledge and experience about agriculture (Shaw & Gould, 2002). The youth will not write any word in the final report but they will be intimately involved in formulating, reviewing and presenting them.  

The fifth assumption is that the youth will be empowered through this process. At the end of the training, it is assumed that the youth will report increased knowledge and skills in agriculture (Shaw & Gould, 2002). As a result, more youth will be able to make more individualized choices on which areas in agriculture to venture in. 

Methodology

In this research, it is proposed to employ questionnaires. To determine the nature of the impact of training needs required to engage youth in agricultural activities, a structured questionnaire should be developed to collect the quantitative data needed. The participants will go to sports grounds where the majority of youth meet during games. The advantages of going to sports grounds lies in the fact that researchers will obtain accurate information and also such venues will enable them to administer the questionnaires to many youths. In order to be effective, it is intended to employ 4 research assistants to distribute and collect the questionnaires.

The questionnaires will be also disseminated among local leaders, NGOs members, small scale farmers and youth in secondary schools and polytechnics. The distribution within cities will be done through hand delivery and motorcycles. The researchers will be attuned to social and cultural backgrounds of the areas under study in order to better understand the youth’s perspective in agriculture. The researchers will employ the use of internet to gather information of youth population density in various cities. Brainstorming will play an important role in structuring the questionnaires to avoid bias and repetition of questions.

While brainstorming, the researchers will take into account any differences in underlying youth behaviour, decision making processes, psychographics, lifestyles and demographic variables so as to come up with a comprehensive questions. Unstructured questions reduce cultural bias because they do not impose any response alternatives to the youths. Data collected from questionnaire is transformed in to statistic related figures computed by mathematical processes and then produce various tables in which numbers have unique meaning to be interpreted.

Sampling Technique

The sampling technique used in this case is simple random sampling, in which each element of the population has an equal and independent chance of being included in the sample. The advantages of this using simple random sampling lie in the fact that it requires a minimum knowledge of the population and it is free from subjectivity and personal errors (Singh, 2008). The disadvantages of using simple random sampling are that the representativeness of the sample cannot be ensured by this method and also the inferential accuracy of the finding depends on the size of the sample (Singh, 2008).

In order to implement the random sampling, a sampling frame will be established. The selection of respondents provided with most tables of random numbers. Computer software will be used to identify a random of the size determined by the researcher (Singh, 2008).

The sample size will be grouped according to population size. The grouping of the sample size, according to the different demographic variables, will assist in understanding the changing attitudes and behaviors of the youth’s readiness to venture in agricultural activities.           

Because the objective is to start up an agriculture training center for the youth in the northern part of Nigeria, it is expected that more northerners will take part in the survey. The participants should note that conducting the research in the northern part of the country was intended not for the results to be biased but because the researchers reside there. To counter this bias, several southerners will take part in the survey.

Methods

Questionnaire

The researchers designed a number of questions, printed them in a definite order on a form as shown in the appendix. The questionnaires were disseminated to various youths and respondents who will be expected to read and write down the reply in the space (Kothari, 2009). The questionnaire was divided into four different sections which include demographics, income & employment, interest, attitudes, training. This was intended to capture as many details about an individual as possible.

Interview

The interview method of collecting involvedpresentation of oral-verbal stimuli and reply in terms of oral-verbal responses through face to face interaction. Personal interview will play an important role because the interviewer will ask questions generally in a face to face contact to other person (Kothari, 2009). This method will enable the investigators to obtain intensive information about youth and agriculture in the area. Depth interviews will be designed to discover motives and desires of youth in order to be used in motivational research. This type of interview will be conducted to explore needs, desires and feelings of youth in relation to agriculture.  

Online research

Online research will enable the researchers to gather information about agriculture, youth demographics in the area, training. This approach will facilitate content analysis of documentary materials such as books, magazines, newspapers and other materials (Kothari, 2009). The researchers will make enough scrutiny of online information because it may be unsuitable in the context of youth and agricultural training needs in Nigeria.

Short Agricultural Training Programs and Schools in Nigeria

From the online search, it can be established thatin order to achieve a remarkable result, training must be conducted with the mandate of improving food production and developing sustainable production systems. The short courses help to increase agricultural production and motivate youth to venture in farming activities.

Statistics indicate that one of the training programs offered in Nigeria is Rural Agriculture Development Training Scheme, which offers training over four months and takes place twice a year at one of the 14 agricultural training centers across Nigeria. About 300 youths per state participate in this program.

Literature shows that Integrated Farming and Training Scheme training equips young people with skills to support crop production and in the rainy season, focus on poultry farming. About 14,775 young people have participated in this scheme.

Ministry of Youth Development offers short term skills training for unemployed youth from 18 to 25 in agriculture and agro-processing. The course lasts two weeks. In 2007, the ministry trained 3,700 youths in agro-processing and agriculture.

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture offers short training in agriculture and carries out information exchange activities in partnership with NGOs and the private sector. The courses concentrate on crop management, plant health and postharvest systems.

  1. Nigeria Women in Agriculture Development Project
  2. Federal Government Sponsored Agricultural Training Programme offered at Federal Agricultural College (FCA)
  3. Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute
  4. Leventis Foundation in Nigeria which offers 1 year Technical Skills Training ProgrammeinAgriculture
  5. Rural Agriculture Development Training Scheme
  6. Integrated Farming and Training Scheme in Nigeria
  7. Ministry of Youth Development
  8. International Institute of Tropical Agriculture

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis is an extremely useful tool for understanding and decision making in agriculture. Webber & Labaste (2010) affirm that SWOT is a starting point for the agricultural strategy in the area because it provides a general characterization of the current state of agriculture, identify issues and generate discussion. SWOT is also a good way of identifying areas to examine in greater detail; hence, it is an excellent analytical starting point.

The major strength is high population in Nigeria and high per capita consumption of agricultural products. The country has a high ratio of agricultural land to agricultural population. The weakness includes lack of good infrastructure, poor local markets and focus on seasonal products. There are several opportunities which exist in agriculture, such as positive attitude regarding the role of agriculture in national economic growth. Over the years, the number of industries related to agriculture and the emergence of new technologies of farming has increased. Threats in this industry include increased crimes and corruption, strict government regulation, high opportunity costs and lower economics of scale among small scale farmers. 

Recommendations & Implementation

Identifying the final set of indicators in this research should be conducted in a participatory manner. Each object can be measured or assessed with many different indicators. The importance of SMART is that it helps to clarify to what extent each group is willing and able to participate in different tasks. It also helps in monitoring the entire process while motivating participants in the systematic work required. 

Specific

Objectives and targets of the training should relate to specific farming practices and issues on the particular project.  The objectives include presence of clear criteria in the monitoring process with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. It should be concerned with processes for training success. The process should be primarily concerned with physical inputs and outputs with the farming activities (Noordhuizen & Thérèse, 2008). It is important to determine what specific standards of care are needed to ensure that the youth training objective in agriculture is attained.

Measurable

The targets should be capable of being measured, so that improvement or deterioration can be easily assessed and obvious. Measurement of the achievements realized after the training should be quantified and based on sound science and not philosophy (Noordhuizen & Thérèse, 2008).  It should measure both quantitative and qualitative indicators, but main focus should be on qualitative indicators, for example, the amount of income generated from the ventures.

Achievable

Targets should be realistic, which means that gradual sustained improvement is often the most effective way forward. Determine what the youth will achieve from the training. Elucidate the extent to which the youth are willing and able to take part in agricultural income generating activities.

Realistic

The training should aim at realistic targets such as ensuring that 100 youths are trained on how manage agricultural ventures.Uneke (2007) says that the most relevant objectives are those that will bring the most benefit to the youths. The agricultural ventures must be broad enough to allow for variation from area to area and from time to time in the entire growing season (Uneke, 2007). The training should focus on actual, costly and immediate problems rather than spending too much effort on less relevant targets.

Timely

The time for objectives and targets to be met should be clearly defined and realistic. Progress should be monitored regularly (Uneke, 2007). In order to make success visible, thereby, motivating the youth and other partners, deadlines and fixed evaluations should be used. This will make achievements both visible and objective.       

Conclusions

The agricultural training needs analysis provides a baseline in which youth can venture into agriculture for sustainable development and for their economic benefits. The training will provide support for the youth with not only basic education to acquire vocational and practical skills in farming, but it will enable them to engage in productive income generating activities to make them self reliant and responsible. With the cooperation of all the key players including the local leaders and the youth, all the three goals can be achieved. It is important to articulate that the training will support farming activities including cultivation, crops production and livestock farming.

For many youth, the reasons behind joining the training should be obvious as it is something to do with fun. In this context, the interviewed youth will venture into agricultural activities based on the perception that it will provide sustainable income. With a wide variety of agricultural activities to venture in such as crop, livestock, aquaculture and apiculture this provides the youth with an opportunity to diversify into many ventures. The youth from rural areas with farming experience saw opportunity to do something they were already involved in while helping their parents in garden work. The influence of others including friends, family members and leaders was perceived by most youth as a motivator to participation.

The training success will rely heavily on coordinator influence and ability to manage activities and supervise the youth. The importance of SWOT analysis cannot be overlooked in this research because it provides a basis for accessing the most viable ventures. To further ensure success of the training, the youth should be allowed to participate in activities such as farm management through applying the SMART objectives highlighted above to avoid unrealistic and unachievable ventures. The youths should be given the opportunity to come up with opinions regarding project structure and logistical components. Beyond activity enjoyment during the training, youth should be involved in aspects of decision making, shared responsibility and be engaged in teamwork.

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