1.1 Background of the Study
Men play important roles in agriculture, undertaking a wide range of activities relating to food production, processing and marketing; and beyond farming, they are involved in land and water management: most often they are collectors of water, firewood and fodder. They have access to a store of local knowledge on the medicinal use of plants; they have been in the forefront of soil conservation programmes; and it is who perform most of the household labour devoted to animals (Commonwealth, 2005).youth participation in agricultural production therefore cut across various subsectors :planting, weeding, harvesting, processing, and marketing as well as tending livestock (Soubh, 2006). This necessitates their integration into planning, policies, and programmes for effective and sustainable development of a nation (FAO, 2003). Hence, the role of women in agricultural production in the developing nations, including Nigeria, can never be overemphasized (Damisa and Yohanna, 2007;andKishor, Gupta, Yadav, and Singh, 1999).Although, rural out-migration has constituted one of the greatest challenges hindering agricultural development in developing countries, surveys showed that, in general, youth in Africa have a strong desire to participate in their community affairs and contribute to its development (African Development Fund – ADF, 2003) provided that: there is government effective and timely support/subsidization to agricultural sector; employment opportunities in the local area, including part-time jobs; the possibility of gaining work experience and vocational qualifications; local facilities for education and training; business service supportive to youth projects and enterprises; public transport services compatible with working hours; local childcare facilities and social services for the elderly and the sick; and supportive public and professional organizations .One of the rationales for improving youth participation in agriculture is that when a youth is educated. As a youth earns income, his\she is more likely than the man to spend it on improving the well-being of the family. This scenario can build youth self-esteem and lead to a more participatory role in both public and private life decision making (FAO, 2011).The full use of productive potential of human resources (male and female) cannot be realized in developing nations if youth do not have access to adequate resources, productivity enhancing inputs and services; and policies such as price incentives cannot be fully successful in stimulating agricultural production if the institutional arrangements prevent women producers from getting the benefits. As such, the role of agriculture has been re-appraised and re-valued on its contribution to industrialization and its importance for harmonious development, political, and economic stability with emphasis on youth participation in agricultural activities. As agricultural resources have become increasingly responsive to market forces and increasingly integrated in the network of industrial interdependencies mainly shaped by technological advancement, vertical integration, marketing and consumer preferences (FAO, 2003b). The International Development Community (IDC) has thus recognized agriculture as engine of growth and poverty reduction in countries where it is the main occupation of the larger proportion of the people. And as agriculture sector is becoming more technologically sophisticated, commercially oriented and globally integrated; the developing countries have to fully utilize their human resources in order to take advantage of the global opportunities for all agricultural producers, including improving youth participation in agriculture (FAO, 2011).