“Rice is our crude oil, we don’t need the Niger Delta crude oil” – Gimba Usman, a young millionaire rice farmer who until 2 years ago was a job-seeking graduate
For generations, farming has been viewed from the prism of being a vocation of the older generations. Therefore, no youth especially if they are educated aspire to go into agriculture. Moreover, in core parts of northern Nigeria, rarely do you find women actively engaging in farming activities because of the society’s view of farming as masculine vocation thus an exclusive preserve of the male gender.
For Nigeria to be able to successfully diversify its economy away from oil, youth and women must get involved in farming or pursue agro-entrepreneurial carriers in any of the agribusiness value chains. The Green Alternative sets forth an agenda of enticing these groups into agriculture by having them appreciate modern methods of farming and a range of agro-allied businesses
It is also worthy of being emphasized that the farmer’s image must be rebranded from that of a hoe-wielding poor, illiterate, and disheveled person tilling the land under scorching sun or heavy rains to that of a sophisticated and educated urbanite riding on a tractor on his farmhouse or supervising his herds of beautiful cattle on a helicopter.
Whereas almost all youth may want to be rich and afford a good life few among them believe agriculture could be their vehicle to riches and good life. Thus, the Green Alternative policy is geared towards creating a better image of farmers as people who can also afford all the goodies of life. The youth must be convinced that going into agriculture or any of its value chains can guarantee them lifetime financial security and all the perks that come with that: houses, cars, holidays etc.
A perfect example of how farming can change the lives of youth and women could be seen in the story of Niger women and youth beneficiaries of the 6th World Bank/Federal Government Fadama III Additional Financing initiative. The scheme has succeeded in making millionaires of out of many hitherto jobless and white-collar jobs seeking graduates across the Badeggi Staple Crop Processing Zone of Niger state.
Among others, the scheme has successfully turned into millionaires jobless twin brothers Gimba and Hussaini a.k.a ‘Smart Farmers’, according to a Daily Trust report. Each of the twin brothers made their fortunes by cultivating five hectares of land through the Fadama III’s wet season farming initiative – within just 2 years.
The duo of Gimba and Hussaini Usman told Daily Trust how rice farming has successfully transformed their lives from job-seeking graduates to millionaires almost overnight. Gimba for example, has succeeded in building for himself a four bedroom apartment, married two wives and acquired 3 vehicles including a new Peugeot 306 – all from the proceeds of rice farming. Moreover, the twin brothers are among intending pilgrims for this year’s Hajj in Saudi Arabia.
Commendably, unlike in past when women’s role in agriculture was restricted to the processing stage of the value chain, women together with youth comprise about 80% of the beneficiaries of Fadama III’s wet season farming in Niger state. For example, in the scheme’s Louma cluster of Wushishi local government area, 34% of cluster members are women.
Thus, it is part of efforts by the Federal Government of Nigeria to ensure more youth and women go into farming that it had come with several agriculture policies and programs like the 6th Fadama III Additional Financing initiative being funded jointly World Bank and Federal Government of Nigeria.
Moreover, Federal Government’s hugely successful Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) which seeks to create a million of jobs across the agricultural value chains in Nigeria by 2021, through single digit facility loans to farmers, is gradually putting Nigeria on the path to self-sufficiency in rice production. The FG has so far disbursed the sum of over N33 billion to over 146,557 farmers across 21 states who are cultivating a combined area measuring over 180,018 hectares.
It is in recognition of this success stories that CBN is embarking on this mass sensitization campaign to encourage more youth and women to go into agriculture.
Compiled by Moving Image Limited