The United Nations Environment Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (UNEP-EBAFOSA) has said the biggest problem Africa is facing today, especially Nigeria, is youth unemployment, which requires about 11 million jobs every year to engage the unemployed.
The regional coordinator, United Nations Environment Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA), Dr. Richard Munang, stated this at the UNEP-EBAFOSA Nigeria policy harmonisation meeting for implementing the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP), and Climate Action, in Abuja, stressing that Nigeria presently huge unemployment via unfriendly policies.
Despite this reality, he regretted that Nigeria has continued to creating more unemployment by importing such items as tomato paste worth $360 million every year.
His words: “But at the same time, Nigeria is losing N9 billion every year as a result of post-harvest losses. Nigeria is importing tomato worth $360 million every year. That means Nigeria is importing unemployment to add on top of the unemployment that she got.”
On the importance of their engagement with other government ministries, agencies and parastatals, the UNEP regional coordinator said: “The importance of this policy harmonisation for climate action coordinated under the UN Environment Framework for Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly is actually to help Nigeria implement its climate obligations in such a way that opportunities can be created for the youth.
“If you look at Nigeria today, Nigeria is losing food as a result of post-harvest losses worth $9 billion every year. This is loss not just in food but also of incomes and opportunities, especially for youths; because, as we are speaking today, Nigeria needs to create 11 million jobs every year to be able to absolve unemployed youths in the country.
“But the question is, where do these jobs come from? They can come as a result of expanding the entire agro-value chain, which is the only area you can create job opportunities for youths.”
In the same vein, the president of EBAFOSA-Nigeria, Mr. James Oyesola, said the youth needed to be engaged now more than ever before amid rising unemployment.
He stated that youth unemployment rate in Nigeria has steadily been on the increase, rising from 9.8 per cent in 2008, to 13.41 per cent in 2017.
Quoting the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Oyesola pointed out that, out of 85.08 million people in the active workforce in Nigeria, 16 million were unemployed in most of 2017.
According to Oyesola, Nigeria has about 98.3 million hectares of arable land of which 72.2 million hectares are cultivable, which is about 23 per cent of arable land across all the West Africa.
He, however, regretted that only 34.2 million hectares was cultivated, with over 53 million Nigerians remain undernourished and majority of Nigerians (65 per cent) remain food insecure.