The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh, has said that investment in mechanised farming would entice Nigerian youths to embrace agriculture as a sustainable means of livelihood.
Ogbeh said this through his Senior Special Adviser, Miss Mosumola Umoru, at the premiere of the “Back to Soil” TV series, an independent production, on Sunday night at IMAX Cinemas in Lagos.
Ogbeh said that one of the advocacies of the government was for farmers to move from the crude method of farming, using hoes and cutlasses to the mechanised way of farming.
“Over the last three years, there has been immense investment around mechanisation, capacity building and skill acquisition programmes for young people to embark on strategic pathways within the agricultural sector.
“There is currently a flag-off in Edo where farm implements and small machines are being handed over to rural women to ensure that farmers can enhance their productivity beyond just manual labour.
“Also, there is a scheme under the ministry that has been running for years, where farm equipment are sold at subsidised rate through the Federal Department of Agriculture,” he said.
The minister urged Nigerians to change their perception about farmers as uneducated and poor, adding that young people should seek career in agriculture because of the enormous opportunities in the sector.
He lauded the TV series, adding that it would help the nation to achieve positive results in the agricultural sector by changing the mindset of youths about their perception of agriculture.
“I celebrate agriculture and believe that with projects like “Back to Soil”, agriculture will be given its place of pride among youths in the society.
“There are so many opportunities buried within the agricultural space that can transform our economy and take Nigeria to greater heights.
“This TV series will change the orientation of youths about the right way they can invest in their future,” Ogbeh said.
Mrs Mairo Adegeye, the producer of the TV series said that the motive behind the production of the movie was to redirect the mindset of youths to the importance of agriculture.
“Before independence, the naira was trading against the Pound Sterling on equal basis based on our strong point which was agriculture before the advent of oil led to the neglect of the agric sector.
“So, this is a wakeup call for everyone to go back to agriculture because no matter who you are, you must eat and ultimately, majority of the things you eat comes from the soil.
“Government has given us its endorsement to go on with the project and I believe that the endorsement will transform to reality, to enable us do more agriculture-based project in the nearest future.”
Mr Wale Oyekoya, a Council member of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that the initiative came at a right time to encourage youths to go back to agriculture.
“Mechanisation is the only key to make agriculture attractive for youths to get involved in the various aspects of sector.
“Farming is just one segment; we have value added services like production, exporting and marketing where our youths can choose to function in whatever capacity that interest them.
“I believe the TV series will help to awaken the need and importance for us to embrace agriculture as a major source of income,” he said.
Priscilla Austine, one of the casts, said that she became enlightened during the course of producing the series and had decided to add poultry production to her acting career.