Promoting Youth Participation in Agriculture Through Football
Over the years, it has been observed that youths pay attention to recreational activities and entertainment, such as football and other sports. Sadly, agriculture in Nigeria has not made the list of interesting activities due to the current hardships and challenges faced by farmers in Nigeria.
The Nigerian government is doing a lot to encourage more youth engagement in agriculture through social media promotion as well as creating access to funds for those interested. The Young Professionals for Agricultural Research and Development and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture Youths Agripreneurs have carried out many programs that make agriculture attractive to youths. However, the majority of the public — especially these youths — have not fully explored and do not understand the potential of improved technologies, especially genetic modification technology in agriculture.
As part of its creative awareness strategy, the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB) brought students together by supporting a football match at the university, using the game to educate them on the potentials of biotechnology. A large crowd of over 200 youths gathered to participate and cheer their team at the football competition between students of the Faculty of Education and Plant Science and Biotechnology at Nassarawa State University, Keffi.
During the half time of this event, we addressed the students on ways to make farming cool. One example we highlighted was adopting improved technologies. The ways biotechnology can help to solve challenges faced by farmers — insect and pest manifestation, drought, flood and other related issues — were discussed. The students studying plant science and biotechnology were called on to serve as advocates and champions of the technology, as its adoption will open up job opportunities for them when they graduate.
This event was impactful. Students were empowered with more information on biotechnology research and biosafety activities in Nigeria. Many of them asked questions on how they can be part of OFAB and contribute towards advocating for access to improved technology for farmers in Nigeria.