Leveraging Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for Food Security

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A A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations found that 21 Nigerian states, including the FCT, face the threat of a food crisis in 2022. It also noted that 14.4 million Nigerians are already facing a food crisis, but this could reach 19.5 million by the end of the year. To reverse the trend and build a sustainable food system that will meet local food needs as well as food production that will serve as a source of foreign exchange earnings, Nigeria must urgently find other ways to strengthen the food system.

One such way, which can ensure a top-down approach to strengthening the food system, is to examine the educational needs of farming communities and future farmers across the country. Examining the educational needs of farming communities and future farmers across the country is key to adopting a bottom-up approach to agricultural education in Nigeria. Looking closely at the educational trends in the country, the majority of young people, who have the potential to change the country’s agricultural landscape, are enrolled in the university education system due to the national demand for university graduates.

The effect of enrolling in university is that most of these graduates are not interested in practical agriculture. The majority of graduates are interested in white-collar jobs, and those with an interest in hands-on farming are trained only for supervisory, managerial, and consulting roles. By ensuring that the human resources and mental acumen needed to withstand the changing landscape of agriculture in the country are available, policymakers and researchers must take advantage of the education offered by technical education and training. and professionals (TVET) in the country.

The young Nigerian population, which is most affected by unemployment, is found in agrarian communities. This population is also the main attendance at polytechnic, monotechnic, technical and vocational schools in the country. Working to revamp the curriculum and engage graduates from technical and vocational education and training centers across the country will strengthen the food system and provide needed support to smallholder farmers who are responsible for over 90% of production agriculture in Nigeria. if the focus is on agri-food production.

According to the Nigerian National Policy on Education, the country’s TVET aims to provide young people with the skills needed to work in applied science, technology and business, especially at craft, advanced craft and technical levels. TVET also aims to provide the technical knowledge and vocational skills needed for agricultural, business and economic development; and training and imparting the necessary skills to individuals for economic self-sufficiency. As the nation recovers from the economic losses of the COVID-19 pandemic and the demands posed by the challenge of climate change, smallholder farmers are facing urgent challenges in their efforts to feed the nation.

The curriculum for agriculture courses under the national TVET needs a major overhaul to accommodate innovative agricultural practices such as climate-smart agriculture, precision agriculture and agriculture Aboveground. Classes and hands-on sessions need to incorporate technology-driven practices, as opposed to the brick-and-mortar methods of rainfed agriculture we are used to. There is a need for the Industrial Work Experience for Students (SIWES) program to incorporate agile approaches into student training so that it can include technical knowledge and impactful professional skills that will ensure sustainable agricultural development.

With foreign aid pouring in to support smallholder farmers in Africa and Nigeria, training TVET graduates with skills to help implement, manage and monitor food security programs will help to extend the intervention of these programs to the small farmers who need it.

To begin with, there is a need to empower graduates in the areas of capacity development to provide advisory and extension services to farmers, convey the results of field trials to farmers and also engage in the practices. modern agricultural practices taught to them.

To consolidate these recommendations, it would also be useful if the minimum standard of TVET centers across the country be reviewed to capture a summary of research reports that support climate-smart agriculture as the key to abundant agricultural production. and food security.

Hammed Olaoluwa Jimoh is a lecturer at the School of Vocational and Technical Education at the Federal College of Education, Katsina

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