‌‌Despite being the most dominant industry in the country, the agricultural sector remains an untapped goldmine in Nigeria. In 2020 alone, the sector contributed over $103 million to Nigeria’s 2020 GDP. The sector is trapped in traditional practices and is dominated by smallholders with limited knowledge, skills, and capacity to meet the food demand of a growing population.

From a Jobberman analysis, there is a real potential for agriculture to be a booming industry. The sector currently employs over 23 million people, the estimates from Jobberman research suggest that the sector can create an additional 4.5 million jobs in the next five years across five sub-sectors including Crops, Livestock, Fishery, Forestry, and Horticulture if the skills gap is significantly reduced.

However, young people are leading innovation, and the technological transformation that is disrupting agriculture and its value chains. Youth-driven agritech agencies are attracting social capital to develop strong, globally competitive structures that can harness emerging opportunities within the sector.

Recently, Jobberman organised an Agriculture Roundtable themed  ‘Harnessing Technology and Innovation to Close the Talent Gap in the Nigerian Agriculture Sector’,  attended by some of the country’s most forward-thinking companies and leaders such as Dr Manzo Maigari, Director General, Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG); Mrs. Babangida, Director, Federal Department of Agriculture; Akindele Phillips, CEO, Farmcrowdy and Dr. Oluwayimika Angel Kuye, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Ogun State on Agriculture. Please see the full video of the session here.

The Top 5 skill gap areas highlighted during the roundtable were; Breeding techniques, Animal nutrition, Ornamental horticulture, Data Science, and machine learning. In addition, the Top 5 in-demand skills were Animal nutrition 58%, Farm equipment operation 41%, Soil management 36%, Production management 25%, Fish farm management 21%.

Jobberman is a recruitment and job search platform that has grown into an all-encompassing career platform that seeks to close this gap. In a conversation with Benjamindada.com, Rolake Rosiji (CEO) explained how Jobberman is helping to close the skills gap in the agricultural sector.

Detailed below are excerpts from the conversation with Rolake. The conversations have been edited lightly for clarity.

1. The agricultural sector is currently dominated by farmers who possess traditional knowledge. How can the knowledge gap be brought to speed with recent technological disruptions?

Traditional knowledge is vital to agriculture, when coupled with innovative technology the sector would be booming.  The knowledge gap in the agricultural sector often translates into a significant skills gap, our research shows that it’s in areas such as soil management, farm produce packaging, breeding techniques, ornamental horticulture, equipment techniques, data science, and machine learning, and software development.

In order to close the skills gap, the agricultural sector will require significant investments in skills development (core agricultural, technical, digital, and soft skills) from the private and public sectors. Adequate tech skills also need to be developed in schools so it is not too much of a leap from education to entry-level positions,  especially for women and young people in marginalized communities. This will enable an easier transition into jobs and contribute meaningfully to the sector.

2. How can the agriculture sector be made more attractive to Nigerian youths?

Providing more opportunities for the digitization of agriculture. Highlighting ways in which it can be transformed technologically. This could lead more Nigerian youth to look at the agricultural sector. Youth-driven agri-tech agencies are attracting social capital to develop strong, globally competitive structures that can harness emerging opportunities within the sector.

In 2019, African startups raised $2 billion, in comparison to $400 million in 2015. According to Partech, fintech represented 25% of total African funding raised last year, with agritech amongst others following behind. Nigerians are increasingly looking for more solution-driven and high-impact aspirations, which they can find within agritech.

3. What role can the government play in terms of policy to make more youths participate in the agriculture sector?

There has recently been renewed government interest in promoting growth within the agricultural sector through the improvement of agricultural policies. While improving agricultural policies to support innovation will be crucial in stimulating growth through private-public partnerships, a focus on tackling insecurity is equally important. Additionally, leveraging technology to manage the effects of climate change on agricultural production is necessary for creating an enabling business environment.

In a bid to address the gap in value additions, Nigeria Digital Agriculture strategy (2020-2030) has emerged as a federal government initiative for harmonizing income generation possibilities across agricultural production and value chains by leveraging disruptive technologies. It is projected to create 10 million paying jobs and attract 7 million youths into the sector.

4. How would the active participation of Nigerian youths affect the agricultural sector in Nigeria?

Of Nigeria’s 200 million population, the youth population is estimated at over 100 million between the ages of 15-35, a number that is expected to double by 2050. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, youth unemployment in Q4 2020 was as high as 53.4%.  It stands to reason that by harnessing and deploying the agency of the growing youth population,  there is huge potential to accelerate the prosperity of the sector.

5. How is Jobberman helping to bridge the skills gap in the agriculture industry?

In January 2020, Jobberman partnered with the Mastercard Foundation with the goal to tackle youth unemployment in Nigeria. The partnership, titled ‘Young Africa Works ’, aims to train 5 million young people in Nigeria (with 70% focus on women) and enable 3 million of them to secure dignified and fulfilling work by 2025. The project is focused on three target sectors: agriculture, digital and creative.

Jobberman is conducting soft skills training for competency around time management and workplace productivity, among other areas. The Alliance for Better Work will also help companies in the sector identify the right skills set and where training is required to close the gap.

About Jobberman

Jobberman started as a recruitment and job search platform but has grown into an all-encompassing career platform offering online career advice, personalised HR solutions for both individuals and institutions as well as training services for jobseekers. The vision is to be Nigeria’s most user-centric and transparent career ecosystem, where they connect the right candidates with the right opportunities.