Stakeholders in agriculture, food and nutrition sector say youth remain Africa’s greatest asset for its food system transformation.
The stakeholders said this at the United Nations Food System dialogue of Youth in food and agriculture on Thursday via zoom.
Mr Adeoluwa Adegbemile, Food System Programme Coordinator, Impact Nutrition Africa Initiative, identified Africa as endowed with abundant arable land and vast water resources,
He, however, noted that in spite of the abundant arable land the agricultural sector was unable to supply the food needs of its citizens.
Adegbemile emphasised that with a rapidly growing youth population expected to double to over 830 million by 2050, youths remained Africa’s greatest asset for its Food System Transformation.
According to him, Nigeria with over 43 per cent of its population as youths ranks 98 of 107 countries on the 2020 Global Hunger Index.
“With less youths involved in the food and agricultural sector, the need for youth inclusion in identifying actions and inspiring change is imperative.”
Similarly, Mrs Olusola Idowu, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, said UN food system summit was designed to establish the future direction for food systems.
She further noted that the summit was to create and facilitate synergy toward addressing the global food challenges likely to hinder the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
Idowu explained that food insecurity was likely to be further worsened by failure to properly identify and give desired attention to the challenges faced by the youth farmers.
“Youth food system dialogue is an opportunity to look into the challenges hindering the participation of the youth in agriculture.
“This is with a view to coming up with practical and implementable measures that will support youths in agriculture and food system in Nigeria.
“Attention is given to youths in nutrition, agriculture and food system because addressing the issues relating to the youth in food system will increase employment generation and reduce crime rate.
“It will also address rural-urban migration and facilitate modern approach to enhancing food from farm to the table as a catalyst to food security and sustainability in Nigeria.”
The permanent secretary decried that youth participation in agriculture was currently hindered by numerous challenges.
He identified some of the challenges as lack of access to land, credit facilities and access to improved seedlings and farm inputs.
Others are inadequate market information, improper linkages between agriculture and agribusiness as well as wrong perception that agriculture is for the poor.
“Youth involvement in agriculture will not only enhance food availability but will also boost future system.
“Addressing the barriers faced by the youth farmers will not only increase youth participation in the agricultural, nutrition and food system.
“Encouraging youth involvement in agriculture and entire food system has the potential to improve the standard of living of the youth as well as remove some of the social menace in the country,’’ she said.
Also, Mr Azeez Salawu, the Curator for the dialogue, said the objective of the dialogue was to interact with different categories of youth in food, agriculture and nutrition as critical stakeholders in food system.
Salawu, therefore, urged the youth to renew their commitment and encourage a collaborative approach toward building an effective food system in the country.