WILLINGNESS TO PRACTICE AGRICULTURE AS A CAREER AMONG AGRICULTURAL UNDERGRADUATES IN KEBBI STATE
1.1 Background of the Study
Agriculture was of great importance to Nigeria’s economy in the 1960s (Omorogiuwa, Zivkovic and Ademoh, 2014). During this period, Nigeria was noted among world economies for exportation of crops such as shelled groundnuts, cocoa, palm oil, cotton, etc. Aside from revenue generation from the exportation of cash crops, an average Nigerian looked well fed (Edoka, Otajele and Adejo, 2011) because, food production was also at sufficient level despite the use of the traditional means (hoes and cutlasses) by the local producers of these crops.
In buttressing the above point, Adesina (2012) noted that Nigeria accounted for 42% of the world’s total export of shelled groundnuts with a total export volume of 502,000 metric tonnes (MT) in 1961. According to him, with 167,000MT which accounts for 27% of the world’s export of palm oil, Nigeria was the largest producer of palm oil in 1961.
In the discussion of the glory of Nigerian agriculture in 1960s, cocoa farmer were noted for wealth in the early years of independence as Nigeria accounted for 18% of the global export volume for cocoa in 1961 (Adesina, 2012).
This enviable position of the Nigerian agriculture was lost due to neglect of the sector as soon as the discovery of oil in the country. Now, Nigeria cannot boast of exporting significant quantities of these crops. In fact, local food production is not sufficient to feed her teeming population. In 2008, Nigeria could not import shelled groundnut due to the incidence of aflatoxin which the country could not fix (Adesina, 2012).
With respect to palm oil, Nigeria’s export declined to 25,000MT in 2008 leaving Nigeria far behind Malaysia that took oil palm seedling from Nigeria to her country while Nigeria’s share of the global market for export of cocoa dropped to 8% also by 2008.
This is an unfortunate situation for a country like Nigeria which is blessed with vast natural and human resource endowments. In terms of natural resources, Nigeria has an arable land potential of 98 million hectares (ha) out of which 84 million ha (86%) is cultivatable and 40% (34 million ha) of the cultivatable land area is currently been used for agriculture (Adesina, 2012).
The implication is that about 60% of the total cultivatable land area is currently untapped. In addition to land area, the country is blessed with marine resources, rivers, lakes and creeks which are excellent for fish production.
The climatic conditions in the country also support and encourage agricultural production activities. With regards to human resources, the country’s population is currently over 170 million.
More than two-thirds of this population constitutes youths (Eneji, Mai-Lafia and Weiping, 2013) who should be actively engaged in productive agricultural enterprises that will lead to food sufficiency in the country and increased foreign earnings from exportation of surplus agricultural produce.
However, instead of these youths to be engaged in different agricultural activities, they leave rural areas which serve as the center for agriculture in Nigeria to urban cities which have more economic benefits.
This rural-urban migration has been attributed to poor living conditions prevalent in rural areas and inadequate infrastructural facilities (Ademola and Ladele, 2005) among other factors that resulted from the neglect of agriculture sector and rural areas.
Hence, youths have been frustrated and discouraged from taking up agriculture-related enterprises (Ayanda, Olooto, Motunrayo, Yusuf and Subair, 2012). Due to this development, rural areas are currently dominated by the aged farmers who are not agile to meet up with the food demand of the growing population.
For Nigeria’s agriculture to regain its lost glory of ensuring food security and relevance in the world economy through exportation, the aged farmers need to be replaced with vibrant and educated youth who are able to meet up with global technological development that will lead to increased agricultural productivity.
According to Ekoja (2004), education is a significant factor in the adoption of innovations among farmers. Age has also been recognized as a limiting factor to farmers’ willingness to make use of technologies as well as work on farms (Ismaila, Gana, Tswanya and Dogara, 2010).
Also, Successive Nigerian governments have attempted to improve rural livelihood, provide employment and ensure food security through agricultural development initiatives. Some of these are Directorate of Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI), National Accelerated Food Production programme (NAFPP), National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs), Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), River Basin Development Authority (RBDA), Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS), National Fadama
Development Project (NFDP), Green Revolution, Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP), National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (NEEDS), National Special Programme for Food Security (NSPFS), and Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS) (Adebayo and Okuneye, 2005; Jibowo, 2005). Agriculture is also one of the seven-points agenda in the vision 20-20-20 programme (Omorogiuwa et al., 2014).
Most of these programmes had little or no impact on the lives of the rural farmers because of corruption, inconsistency in government policies; top-down approach used in implementting development programmes among other several reasons.
In lieu of this, the focus of agriculture should be shifted from been seen as development programmes/ projects, it should rather be considered as a business. That is, it should be seen as a profession, not a hobby for everyone but for professionals. It should be considered as prestigious like Medicine, Law, Engineering, etc that most youths will want to associate with.
In recognition of the importance of education to the development of agriculture and the need to professionalize agriculture, the Nigerian government took a strong stance by inculcating the teaching of agricultural science into the education curricula of primary and secondary schools in the country.
Aside from this, Universities and Colleges of Agriculture were also institutionalized at both state and federal levels of government in order to produce graduates with required manpower for agricultural development.
Currently, there are three federal universities of agriculture located in Abeokuta, Makurdi and Umudike with the tripodal objective of research, teaching and extension in agriculture. In addition, faculties and departments of agriculture were also introduced into other states and federal universities, polytechnics and colleges. Private institutions also have faculties of agriculture in their academic programmes.
It is however surprising to note that graduates who studied different aspects of agriculture such as agricultural economics, agricultural extension, crop production, animal science/production, soil science, etc are currently
looking for scarce white-collar jobs in the banking, oil and gas sectors, etc thereby abandoning what they spent several years to study in universities, polytechnics and colleges while people who had no special education in agriculture are doing well in different agricultural enterprises.
For instance, owners of the 10 leading farms in Nigeria in 2014 published in LEADERSHIP on February 28 were not graduates of agriculture; they were primarily politicians (former heads of states, senators, governors and their families) and business tycoons who took agriculture as viable business enterprise (Adah and Chiama, 2014).
The implication of this is that although studying agriculture may be a necessity, it is not the most important pre-requisite to owning and managing a successful agricultural business. According to Ayanda et al. (2012), it is expected that graduates of these institutions who studied agriculture should develop passion in agriculture and serve as active work force that will replace the aged population thereby improving agricultural productivity.
1.2 Statement of the Problem.
In the era of dwindling oil production and scarcity of foreign exchange, there is paramount need to fall back to Agriculture as the mainstay of the economy.
In spite of all efforts and policies of Government to boost agriculture, Food sufficiency remains a pressing problem in the nation.
Non – availability of credit facilities, lack of access to land, illiteracy of farmers and low farm mechanization, poor knowledge about Agriculture on the part of Government results to negligence of Agriculture and rural areas. This frustrates and discourages young farmers and fresh graduates of Agriculture from engaging in Agriculture-related enterprises.
In a situation whereby Agriculture is left in the hand of rural elderly illiterates, food sufficiency is not easily obtainable.
This study therefore, aims at examining the willingness of young agricultural graduates engaging in Agricultural activities even after graduation.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study include;
- To identify social economic characteristics of undergraduates of Agriculture.
- To analyze students’ satisfaction in studying Agriculture.
- To determine Students’ willingness to venture into Agriculture-related activities as a career.
- To analyze students’ constraints to taken up agriculture as a career.
1.4 Justification / Significance of the Study
This study would be of immense help to the youth and undergraduates students’ as it would clearly evaluate and analyze why the undergraduates especially the youth that accounts for one – third of Nigerian population do not engage in productive Agricultural activities for a sustainable food sufficiency and increased foreign exchange in the country.
It would also examine why Agricultural science undergraduates see Agriculture as a Job for illiterate and elderly people.
The study would also find out possible solutions to the problems of Agriculture-related enterprises.
Ho1: There is no significant relationship between agricultural undergraduate students’ level of satisfaction and willingness to taking up Agriculture as a career.
H11: There is significant relationship between agricultural undergraduate students’ level of satisfaction and willingness to taking up Agriculture as a career
Ho2: Socioeconomic background the students has no significant impact on the student’s willingness to taking up Agriculture as a career.
H12 Socioeconomic background the students has significant impact on the student’s willingness to taking up Agriculture as a career
1.6 Scope Of The Study
This study on the willingness to practice agriculture as a career among agricultural undergraduates will focus on the determinants of the students choosing agriculture as career in kebbi state Nigeria. The scope of this study will cover 400 level agriculture science students of Kebbi state university.
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