By Akanimo Sampson
Apparently shaken by the worrisome unemployment situation in Nigeria, the Osun State Government in South-West Region is currently setting its eyes on the agriculture sector for a solution.
The state is assiduously pushing to raise agribusiness tigers that will be its new massive job providers in the state. To this end, the government is collaborating with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) through the IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) and Start Them Early Programme (STEP) platforms, to raise agribusiness ambassadors in Osun.
Education Commissioner, Folarunsho Oladoyin, has already visited IITA Ibadan campus with his Assistant, Bukola Elufisan and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Jamiu Olawumi, to perfect the state government’s ambition.
Osun is seeking better ways to create more employment opportunities because according to the education handlers in the state, the government is concerned about the high rate of unemployment, with youth increasingly graduating into a no-job system. The state also intends to improve its educational system while working to solve the problem of unemployment.
Following the advice of Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Oladoyin considered partnering with IITA in solving the problem of unemployment through agriculture. According to the commissioner, “Adesina said ‘the best and easiest way to solve the problem of unemployment in Africa is to use the resources we have,’ and agriculture is the resource we have.”
The plan is for IITA to train 20 ambassadors that will complement the work of the STEP and IYA teams in Osun. The essence of the training is to equip the ambassadors with the required knowledge and skills to run and sustain the programme in the absence of the IITA team, including training others. “If they are not well trained, they might end up drowning the interest of students in agriculture rather than encouraging them,” he said.
Jamiu mentioned that not only should agribusiness ideas be introduced to primary and secondary schools, but also extended to tertiary institutions and every institution that runs agricultural programs in Osun State. “I think Osun State is a better place to go with STEP and IYA because we have set-up structures that can accommodate these programs,” he said.
Aside from changing the mindset of students and unemployed youth towards agriculture, the Commissioner also suggested that there should be a shift in the mindset of the employed from white-collar jobs to agriculture through a mindset-change programme.
Folarunsho also emphasised o the need to construct a School of Agriculture where practical training and resources will be made available in the state.
Kenton Dashiell, IITA Deputy Director General, Partnerships for Delivery (P4D), agreed to the idea of IITA assisting in drafting the training plan and budget. However, this would be after an official letter has been sent to that effect from the commissioner.