Professor Pat Egbule, a lecturer at the Delta State University, Abraka, has developed a youth-based agricultural model, which is designed to guarantee food sufficiency and address the high unemployment rate in the country.
Presenting the model at the inaugural lecture in Abraka, titled “Farms Without Youths: Making Gamblers the Career Farmers,” Pat Egbule urged state governments to apply the model in moping up those he called ‘gamblers’ from the streets.
The model, which he called Dual Approach to Training and Commercial Agricultural Production (DATCAP), and Schools Farm Programme (SFP), becomes imperative in the face of rising population, which makes food security more important to us as a nation now, than ever before.
He said farming has been hampered by severe shortage of new recruits, and will require new entrants over the next decade, to overcome the challenges.
According to him, Nigeria’s food import bill has been exceptionally high, consuming about 1.3 trillion Naira in foreign exchange yearly. He cautioned that if this trend continues, the availability of food in the near future will be more compromised, and Nigeria will be more vulnerable to external influences and other exogenous shocks that may have negative impacts on food production.
Professor Pat Egbule identified the significant increase in the prices of food, arising from low local production, internal conflicts, such as Boko Haram insurgency, and the dwindling oil revenues, as necessitating the participation of youths in any sustainable effort to boost food production.
Egbule posited that the youths hold the key to the sector, if mobilised through agricultural education, youth employment in agriculture and industrial development.
He also stressed that, apart from helping in reducing the problems of ageing farm population, youth economic empowerment through active career choice in agriculture, food production remains the major solution that is germane to youth problems and food insecurity in the country.
Egbule argued that food is man’s basic need and is central to human survival and productivity, adding that the nation’s food needs have to be met before those of security, social recognition and self-actualisation.
He recommended that all institutions offering agricultural education programmes to adopt the model, which he said could increase food production by about 30%.
The don said his years of studies of the subject led to the conclusion that agricultural education and food production are in a state of transition.
“The maxim that youths are the leaders of tomorrow applies more to agriculture,’ adding that ‘the youthful zeal, energy, strength and industry which are the universal characteristics of youths, are needed to galvanize agricultural production processes for improved productivity.”