Go back to the farm, youths must farm and operation feed the nation. I know must of us must have come across these jingles or advert either years ago or this day. Today, the country is in dire need for diversification and oil isn’t what it used to be today. Instead of thinking out if the box ,the farms and barns have turned to the new bride.
TheThe government has gone to town telling everybody that cares to listen that agriculture is the best way to sustainable economic growth. But, this is a very wrong notion that the administrators of country is making , yet many Nigerians are buying this notion and swallowing it hook, line and sinker.
Most developed countries of the world didn’t get to where they are via agriculture ,they got to the heights of development via technical know-how and research and development with support to start ups not some agriculture. Unlike what they are pontificating in Nigeria , most advanced economies of the world have fewer people in agriculture, though some countries have them as their major industry not because of the population of people that are engaged in agro allied businesses but based on their efficiency . In Africa , more people are engaged in agriculture but low output while in the West few people engage in agro allied business but yet they are food independent and net exporters. The west isn’t about the numbers of people engaged in this industry but the amount of research conducted in the industry unlike Africa.
According to online sources like Wikipedia,In 2012, there were 3.2 million farmers,ranchers and other agricultural managers and an estimated 757,900 agricultural workers were legally employed in the US. Animal breeders accounted for 11,500 of those workers with the rest categorized as miscellaneous agricultural workers. The median pay was $9.12 per hour or $18,970 per year. In 2009, about 519,000 people under age 20 worked on farms owned by their family. In addition to the youth who lived on family farms, an additional 230,000 youth were employed in agriculture. This has placed the population of people engaged in agriculture in the US to be within the neighborhood of three million in a country if over two hundred and eighty million. Putting it in form of statistics, we are talking less than five percent engaged in agriculture yet USA is a net exporters and the world greatest exporter of grain. It all boils down to research and development.
Now, in EU, according to the same online source, Austria, a country near Germany and fought series of wars. Austria’s total area of almost 84,000 square kilometers, about 67,000 square kilometers are used for farming and forestry. Roughly half of that area is forest, and the remainder is arable land and pasture.Despite the decline in the number of farmers and agriculture’s share of GDP since 1960, agricultural output has risen. As of the early 1990s, Austria was self-sufficient in all cereals and milk products as well as in red meat. This gain was achieved because of the considerable gains in agricultural labor productivity.
In Japan, only 20% of Japan’s land is suitable for cultivation, and the agricultural economy is highly subsidized. Japan is self sufficient in food and a net exporters of marine foods. Less than twenty percent of the Japanese population is engaged in one form of agriculture or the other.
In India, Since agriculture contributes 14.5% in India’s GDP, it engages 52%of country’s total labour force.Today, India ranks second worldwide in farm output. Agriculture and allied sectors like forestry and fisheries accounted for 13.7% of the GDP export totalling to $39 billion USD.
In United Kingdom, less than one percent of the population is engaged in agriculture. According to Alan Jones of indeoendent.co.uk he said “The highest proportion of jobs in manufacturing was in Corby, at 24 per cent; real estate activities were highest in Kensington and Chelsea, at 3 per cent; the area with the highest proportion working in education was Oxford (24 per cent); and accommodation and food services were most predominant in the Isle of Scilly.”
Now let’s bring it home. In Nigeria, touted the economic house of Africa, Approximately 70 percent of the population engages in agricultural production at a subsistence level. According to research conducted by the Nation’s encyclopedia. Yet, the country isn’t self sufficient and a net importer of grains.
Switzerland is the highest chocolate producer globally and yet they don’t plant cocoa , their environment can’t even sustain the growth of Cocoa…Yet they make billions of dollars in that business.
It has been established that agriculture isn’t the way to economic development and emancipation. African countries should stop thinking that they can “till” their way to development via the farms and barns. Development is as a result of leadership and above all investment in know-how and sciences. The need to invest in STEM subjects and encouragement of startups are the few ways one can achieve development and admission into the exclusive clubs of advanced nation not agriculture. The Nigerian government must understand the need to invest in human capital . It is the human capital the Israelis invested in that made them turn a barren desert to a lush land. If they can do it, why can’t Nigeria toe that path…Instead of the way way out via the farm path.
Anthony Emeka Nwosu