The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILS) has recommended the establishment of agricultural villages to create jobs and the boost food production.
Director General of NILDS, Prof. Ladi Hamalai disclosed this at a one-day agro-investment policy dialogue with legislators in the House of Representatives as well as researchers.
Speaking at the meeting, Prof. Hamalai noted that there has been some growth in agriculture in the past years.
She however lamented that the growth, as little as it may be, has not translated into job creation adding that Nigeria must take fast steps to translate agriculture into jobs and into food.
For Hamalai, she suggested the establishment of agricultural villages will not only attract youths and thereby creating jobs but will also help provide adequate food especially in view of the projected population growth by 2050.
“Nigeria may be World most populous country in 2050 and we stand a huge risk if we don’t grow agriculture through agric villages so as to create jobs.
“The Federal Government should partner donor agencies to create agricultural villages to attract youths to come into agriculture.
“We can establish them in all the geo political zobes. Even if it is one that can be established, youths and investors will come in and it will grow from there.
“We also need to link research with policy and policy implementation using the agric villages to drive the implementation,” she said.
She expressed optimism that the National Assembly will assist the institute in passing the right laws that will drive the policies.
Speaking at the Dialogue, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Agricultures, said that the meeting will provide a platform for partnership between the National Assembly and Research communities.
He said that Nigeria was yet to fully utilize the opportunities that abound in agriculture and its value chains.
“Less than 40 per cent of Nigeria’s 84 million hectares of arable land are cultivated while over 19 million youths remain unemployed.
“This may be as a result of underdeveloped agricultural value chain, weak institutions, gross underfunding, policy inconsistencies, poor infrastructure, unconducive operating environment among others.
“This dialogue will afford the legislature and researchers to interact and discuss the various findings from research carried out by NILDS and other partners.
“Budgetary allocations to the agricultural sector has been less around 2 per cent for several years and this is a far cry from the 10 per cent bench mark in the Maputo Declaration,” he said.
He added however that the 2018 budget captures investments in the agricultural value chains adding that it was important that more funds be devoted to agriculture.