Venturing into commercial farming is tasking particularly for young farmers. They are faced with inadequate infrastructure, lack of start-up capital, capacity building and mentoring services, among others. Experts however, say that establishing agri-business incubators is a viable mechanism for creating an environment where youth-led start-ups can be nurtured and allowed to flourish. They note that by giving impetus to promotion of youth-driven agri-business entrepreneurship, agri-business incubators would boost agriculture and create jobs. DANIEL ESSIET writes
With agriculture as one of the major planks of Federal Government’s current strategic re-focusing on the non-oil sector to diversify the economy, focus appears to be shifting to Nigerian youths. The generational shift in favour of youths is understandable. For one, Nigeria’s farm labour is ageing, requiring young and vibrant farmers to help exploit the nation’s largely unexploited agricultural potentials. Besides, with the current challenges of boosting food security, stakeholders in the agric sector are of the view that there is need to engage many youths in agricultural production, including farming, seed supply, agri-chemicals, farm machinery, wholesale and distribution, processing, marketing and retail.
However, with many young agro entrepreneurs already showing keen interest in agri-business, most of them are still faced with the challenges that come with starting off new agro ventures such as inadequate infrastructure, capital and technical knowhow. To turn the tide and unleash the immense potential in agri-business, which is believed to have the capacity to take as many youths as possible off the unemployment market, experts and stakeholders in the agric sector are canvassing the promotion of agri-business incubation centres. The thinking is that agri-business incubation is a viable strategy to transform the agric sector by smoothening the way for new, young farmers’ entrants.
If Nigeria embraces the strategy, it would only be borrowing a leaf from countries across the globe where it is believed to have worked wonders. Indeed, globally, agri-business incubators serve start-up entrepreneurs, small and medium enterprises and agro-tech innovators among others. Through this initiative, governments across the world have promoted the establishment of agri-business ventures through a vast pool of commercialisable agro-technologies from Research and Development (R&D) institutes, provided access to infrastructural facilities, made available capacity building and mentoring, and facilitated funding.