Nigeria’s rural communities are endowed with young men and women who constitute over 32 percent of rural population. It has been a major problem to retain this potent force in the rural areas as they continue to migrate to urban centers hoping for a better life, which is not usually attainable. Some of the reasons attributed to why they are quitting the rural areas and farming profession are: inadequate rural infrastructure and social amenities, poor living standard of the rural dwellers, non- lucrativeness of farming and high taste for cities. Majority of these youth, though, were socialized into farming from their childhood often abandon the rural communities for urban centers at the point of youth-hood with the aim of getting white collar jobs. This situation has made the majority of aged farmers to remain hopeless on the farms with nobody to take over from them. Consequently, the rural area is deprived of these youths’ naturally acquired skill in farming and ruggedness for practicing farming, which should have constituted a major asset for rural development. This situation also poses a serious threat to sustainable agricultural and rural development in Nigeria.
The rural youth have been characterized as possessing innovation proneness, minimal risks aversion, faster reaction time, less fear of failure, less conservation, greater physical strength, greater knowledge acquisition propensity, faster rate of learning, love for adventure and preference for boldness. These virtues are enthusiastically carried along with them to the urban centers, which they often lost in their disillusionment. Apart from the consequent population increase and the attendant problems confronting the urban areas, majority of these youths also find it difficult to survive the urban challenges. Their failure in the urban centers has been attributed to poor education and low level of relevant skills for use, which make it difficult for them to compete with those raised in the cities.
One major fundamental question emanating from the foregoing, therefore, is how would these youth be retained in the rural areas for them to contribute their potentials to sustainable rural development?
It has been observed that rural youth are not significantly well focused in most of the government- sponsored rural development programmes in Nigeria. For instance, the agricultural extension workers in Nigeria that are primarily trained through the agricultural institutions to effect changes in the rural sector, through their interactions with farm-families, have little or no training on rural youth development. This has created a very serious missing link in rural transformation efforts. This cannot be left to chance!
All the above evidences have led to the establishment of the African Centre for Rural Youth Empowerment (ACRYE), an independent, non-religious, non-political, non-profit, non-ethnic and non-governmental organization licensed in Nigeria to facilitate the youth empowerment for a decent livelihood in the rural communities of Nigeria.