Imagine getting paid handsomely for doing exactly what you love to do. A typical example was the joy Austin JJ Okocha felt and displayed when he was dribbling his way through the football ranks at Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany and Bolton Wanderers in the United Kingdom some years back.
In the Nigerian context, although it was unfashionable for youths to remain in the rural areas and live on subsistent farming practices, the tide is now happily turning in favour of young, agricultural entrepreneurs (agri-preneurs) principally for three reasons.
Firstly, crude oil revenue has reduced considerably and the Federal Government has wisely prioritised agriculture as a viable alternative source of revenue, with huge funds invested in the sector. Secondly, the private sector have now realised the huge potential in agricultural partnerships and investment and their usual efficiency and government backups have combined to turn agriculture into a pull factor.
Thirdly and most importantly, many active youths have discovered that there are no longer as many white-collar jobs as before and they, alongside women, are now embracing modern agriculture and the upstream processing side.
Here, the incentives from government, the private sector and foreign partners are helping the youths to overcome unemployment and meet their financial needs with ripple effects on their families and associated dependants. One of such initiatives is the Commercial Agriculture Development Programme (CADP).
The CADP is a comprehensive five-year project developed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources (FMAWR) in collaboration with the World Bank and five (5) States in Nigeria, namely; Lagos, Cross River, Enugu, Kaduna and Kano.
It was aimed at helping participating small and medium scale commercial farmers to access improved technology, infrastructure, finance and output markets. The project was timely as the interest in commercial agriculture in Nigeria was growing.