Jobs on Farms

There was a time in Nigeria that every young graduate wanted to work with an oil and gas firm. Not because of the work to be done but because of the money to be made. Few got the opportunity to walk that path while most did not even get close to it. Then the trend moved to the banking industry and this has long changed since the consolidation a few years ago. And now I ask myself what exists out there for our teeming youths to do. To put things in perspective, Nigerian will be the 3rd most populous nation in the world by 2050 with about 450million people. Africa will have experienced a 55% increase in population, only followed by Asia at 36%. To make this more interesting, more than 40% of that population in Nigeria will be entering the work force, which then raises the question on your mind as well as mine, “Where is the job?”

This brings me back to an essay I wrote in 2012 when I was applying to INSEAD on how to grow agriculture in Africa. It all boils down to being able to get our youths engaged in this industry. There is no other single industry that can absorb so many youths at a time and still not sufficiently meet the demands of the market in terms of finished goods. What remains a major question is how to encourage youths to engage in Agriculture?

My single proposal on this is what I call the creation of agricultural cohorts. Very simply put, the government should create a holistic program which starts with a short intensive training on Agribusiness (see I did not say Agriculture). People need to understand how to make money from Agriculture for them to put their heart and soul into it. Teams of 4-5 diverse skilled youths should be formed from these cohorts. It should include a technical person (depending on what crop/livestock they will be assigned to), a finance expert, a supply chain expert, a marketing expert and a general manager.

Each cohort should be allocated a large expanse (also depending on what crop/livestock) and most importantly be provided with financial support in the form of a loan which will have to be paid back after a grace period at a reasonable interest rate. In this way, they are unleashed, with supervision, to go create value on the farm while being continuously supported with training and mentoring. The crop/livestock selection will also be made on the basis of alignments with major off-takers who will be ready markets for these farm outputs. The cohorts will be responsible for building a business that will employ many, and more so, become sustainable and pay back the loans with interest to the government.

This will require a long-term approach from the government and a commitment to see it through the implementation.

2 thoughts on “Jobs on Farms

  1. Good day Sir

    I have no doubt that jobs will and can be created from agribusiness in Nigeria. However, such might not be feasible as there’s a lack of continuum of policies in Nigeria. E.g is the YOUWIN program., PRESSID. We need a committed team of evaluators or management consultants to draw up plans, however, Nigeria’s problem has never been making plans nor laws but implementing them.

    Moreover, taking a look at countries where their agric sector is developed by global standards. Using Brazil as a case study, its agricultural industry contributed 15-20% of labour force, 4.5% of total GDP; and this coming from one of the biggest agribusiness oriented nations on earth. Moving to the Netherlands, which is the second biggest exporter of agricultural products in value(this is where the jobs are created) after the US, labour force is 4.5-5% of total employment BUT contributes 21% to the Dutch economy. I used Brazil as the first example because of certain similarities(land mass, population, developmental status etc).
    What am I saying? Agribusiness will create jobs, but not the way or manner Nigerians keeping harping on it. Please don’t think I’m against agribusiness or the sector in general, it’s just that the government have made us believe that agriculture has ALL the answers to our problems(unemployment,economy, exportation etc).

    Additionally, MNCs like Syngenta have a lot to do concerning the perceived notion about GM foods in Nigeria nay Africa. Young individuals like I (I’m a Genetic and Biotechnology student in one of the tertiary institutions ) have done a lot to sensitise the populace about the benefits of GM foods/seeds but unfortunately ignorance has made the public to be antagonistic towards such innovative development(s).

    Thank you.


    1. I agree absolutely with what you have said. The truth remains that consistent and bold agricultural policies will be the differentiating factor in the sector. But at the same time, we have to take tiny ‘giant’ strides to bring this to fruition. A good example is the topic of GMs. While I am with you on this subject, I think we need to conquer some lower battles first before going for this. We have the issue of good seeds (properly multiplied and cleaned), agronomic practices, aggregation, large scale farming etc. GM seeds to farmers will be like giving a ferrari to someone who cannot drive – he will get no value from it and eventually crash it. We need to get people to become better drivers first before handing such to them. We do have a long way to go but we will get there…


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