Document Type : Regular articles


School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences Nottingham Trent University Brackenhurst, Southwell NG25 0QF, UK


Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has the world’s highest proportion of young population and there has been widespread interest in and calls for engaging this youth in agricultural occupations for achieving sustainable agricultural development and food security in the region. Yet, very little is known if the youth themselves are willing to take up such employments and what would motivate them to do so. We investigated these questions in the context of Nigeria. A questionnaire was designed with insights from the Expectancy-Value Theory of motivation. Data were collected from over nine hundred undergraduate students of agriculture in four Nigerian universities to investigate their willingness and motivations to pursue an agricultural career after graduation and analysed using descriptive statistics and Principal Axis factoring. Vast majority of the students were willing to pursue an agricultural career and self-employment based on agricultural production was their most preferred choice, which varied according to gender, rural vs. urban residence, and study programmes. Both Success Expectancy (perception of own ability/competence to perform agricultural tasks) and Utility Value (usefulness of agriculture to achieve career goals) exerted positive motivational influence on the students’ willingness, with Utility Value being more influential. Motivation based on Utility Value also had the strongest influence on career choice. These findings can guide policy and intervention design to ensure maximum impact and effectiveness in increasing and sustaining educated youths in agriculture.
DOR: 20.1001.1.22517588.2021.


Main Subjects

  1. Addo, L. K. (2018). Agripreneurs, factors influencing agripreneurship and their role in agripreneurship performance among young graduate. International Journal of Environment, Agriculture and Biotechnology (IJEAB), 3(6), 2051-2066. Retrieved from
  2. Adebo, G. M., & Sekumade, A. B. (2013). Determinants of career choice of agricultural profession among the students of the faculty of agricultural sciences in Ekiti State University, Nigeria. Journal of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development, 5(11), 249-255. doi:10.5897/JAERD2013.0508
  3. AfDB. (2018). High Five - Jobs for Youth In Africa: Improving the quality of Life for people in Africa. Abidjan: African Development Bank Group (AfDB).
  4. Afere, L., Oluwaseun, A., Varun, B., Courières, C. B., Mabonga, L., Ocansey, M., & Neate, P. (2019). Making agriculture attractive to young people. AJ Wageningen – The Netherlands: Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation CTA.
  5. Anderson, J. C. (2013). An exploration of the motivational profile of secondary urban agriculture students. Journal of Agricultural Education, 54(2), 205–216. doi:10.5032/jae.2013.02205
  6. Ariela, P. G., & Yael, K. (2016). “It’s every family’s dream’’: Choice of a medical career among the Arab minority in israel. Immigrant Minority Health, 18, 1148–1158. doi:10.1007/s10903-015-0252-7
  7. Ariyo, J. A., & Mortimore, M. (2012). Youth farming and Nigeria’s development dilemma: The Shonga experiment. IDS Bulletin, 43(6), 58-66.
  8. Battersby, J. (2012). Beyond the food desert: Finding ways to Speak about urban food security in South Africa. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, 94(2), 141–159. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0467.2012.00401.x
  9. Benson, L., & Morkos, B. (2013). CAREER: Student Motivation and Learning in Engineering. 120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition (p. Paper ID #6363). Atlanta: American Society for Engineering Education.

10. Bøe, M. V., & Henriksen, E. K. (2015). Expectancy-Value Perspectives on Choice of Science and Technology Education in Late-Modern Societies. In E. K. Henriksen, J. Dillon, & J. Ryder (Eds.), Understanding Student Participation and Choice in Science and Technology Education, (pp. 17-29). Dordrecht: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-7793-4_2.

11. Bryman, A. (2016). Social Research Methods (5th ed.). Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

12. Calestous, J. (2015). The new harvest : Agricultural innovation in Africa (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

13. Committee on World Food Security (CFS). (2015). Developing the knowledge, skills and talent of youth to further food security and nutrition. Rome: FAO, IFAD and WFP.

14. Coy, Peter. (2011, February 3). “The youth unemployment bomb.” Bloomberg Business week. Retrieved from

15. Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2018). Research Design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches (5th ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE.

16. Crush, J. (2012). Migration, development and urban food security. Urban food security series, NO. 9. Retrieved from

17. Dlamini, N. F. (2017). Factors influencing the choice of agriculture as a study discipline by undergraduates: A case study of a distance university’s agriculture department South Africa (Master’s thesis) University of South Africa. Retrieved  from

18. Eccles, J. S., & Wigfield, A. (2002). Motivational beliefs, values, and goals. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 109-132. Retrieved from

19. Esters, L. T., & Bowen, B. E. (2005). Factors influencing career choices of urban agricultural education students. Journal of Agricultural Education, 46(2), 24-35. Retrieved from

20. Fan, W., Weihua, F., Consuelo, A., & Diana, D. P. (2020). Selfefficacy and subjective task values in relation to choice, effort, persistence, and continuation in engineering: An Expectancy-value theory perspective. European Journal of Engineering Education, 45(1), 151-163. doi:10.1080/03043797.2019.1659231

21. FAO Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum). (2018). Eradicating extreme poverty: What is the role of agriculture? Rome: FAO.

22. FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP, and WHO. (2019). The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019: Safeguarding against economic slowdowns and downturns. Rome: FAO.

23. FAO/CTA/IFAD. (2014). Youth and agriculture: Key challenges and concrete solutions. Retrieved from

24. FAO-AU. (2018). Leaving No One Behinde. Food and Agriculture organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

25. Filmer, D., & Louise, F. (2014). Youth Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa. Washington, DC: The World Bank. doi:10.1596/978-1-4648-0107-5.

26. Glover, D., & Sumberg, J. (2020). Youth and food systems transformation. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 4(101). doi:10.3389/fsufs.2020.00101

27. Hudu, Z., Hamza, A., & Afishata, M. A. (2014). Assessment of agricultural students of university for development studies intention to take up self-employment in agribusiness. International Journal of Information Technology and Business Management, 21(1), 53-67.

28. Ighobor, K. (2013, May 31). Africa’s youth: Ticking time bomb or an opportunity? Africa Renewal, 27(1). United Naions Publications. doi:

29. Ilenloh, M. I., Onemolease, E. A., & Erie, A. P. (2012). Occupational aspirations of university students of agriculture in Edo State, Nigeria. Journal of Agricultural & Food Information, 13(2), 130-143. doi:10.1080/10496505.2012.667356

30. Ji-Yeun, R., & Nsanganira, T. R. (2019). Creating jobs for rural youth in agricultural value chains. AJ Wageningen: Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, CTA.

31. Jöhr, H. (2012). Where are the Future Farmers to Grow Our Food? (P. Goldsmith, Ed.) International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, 15(Special Issue A), 9-11.

32. Jones, K., Williams, R.J. & Gill, T.B. “If you study, the last thing you want to be is working under the sun:” An analysis of perceptions of agricultural education and occupations in four countries. Agric Hum Values 34, 15–25 (2017).

33. Kenton, L. (2007). Is the green revolution a solution to the challenges facing Africa? In A. Nærstad (Ed.), African Can Feed itself (pp. 142-150). Oslo, Norway: The organizing committee of the conference (Can Africa Feed Itself?) in Oslo, Norway June 6-8th 2007

34. Kumar, M., Suchiradipta, B., & Saravanan, R. (2019). Reshaping the future of agriculture: A youth and social media perspective. Hyderabad, India: National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE).

35. Kumar, R. (2014). Research methodology: A step by Step guide for beginners (4th ed.). London: SAGE.

36. Lantra. (2012). Agriculture, forestry and fishing: sector skills assessment 2012. London: UK Commission for Employment and Skills, [UKCES]. Retrieved from

37. Leavy, J., & Hossain, N. (2014). Who wants to farm? youth aspirations, opportunities and rising food prices. IDS Working Paper 439. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies, IDS.

38. Leech, N., Barrett, K., & Morgan, G. (2011). IBM SPSS for Intermediate Statistics (4th ed.). New York: Routledge.

39. Löwe, A., & Phiona, S. (2017). Creating opportunities for young people in Northern Uganda’s agriculture sector. London: Overseas Development Institute, (ODI).

40. Luke, M., Scott, D., & Reinette, B. (2019). We’re ready, the system’s not – youth perspectives on agricultural careers in South Africa. Agricultural Economics Research, Policy and Practice in Southern Africa, 58(2), 154-179. doi:10.1080/03031853.2018.1564680

41. Lynch, S. (2019, June - August ). Agriculture's potential to mitigate youth migration. SPORE - stemming youth migration: Opportunities in Agriculture, 193, pp. 18-23.

42. Matusovich, H., Streveler, R., Loshbaugh, H., Miller, R., & Olds, B. (2008). Will I Succeed in engineering? using expectancy value theory in a longitudinal investigation of students’ beliefs. Paper presented at 2008 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Retrieved from

43. Mueller, V., & Thurlow, J. (Eds.). (2019). New York, NY: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oso/9780198848059.003.0001

44. Okiror, J. J., & Otabong, D. (2015). Factors influencing career choice among undergraduate Students in an African university context: The case of agriculture students at Makerere University, Uganda. Journal of Dynamics in Agricultural Research, 2(2), 12-20.

45. Pallant, J. (2016). SPSS Survial Manual - A step by Step guide to data analysis using IBM SPSS (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

46. Richardson, P. W., & Watt, H. M. (2006). Who chooses teaching and why? profiling characteristics and motivations across three Australian Universities,. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 34(1), 27-56. doi:10.1080/13598660500480290

47. Santiago, A., & Roxas, F. (2015). Reviving farming interest in the Philippines through agricultural entrepreneurship education. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 5(4), 15–27. Retrieved from

48. Scofield, G. G. (1994). An Iowa Study: Factors Affecting Agriculture Students Career Choice. NACTA, 28-30.

49. Sheahan, M., & Barret, C. (2017). Ten striking facts about agricultural input use in Sub-Saharan Africa. Food Policy, 67, 12–25.

50. SRUC [Scotland’s Rural College]. (2016). The future of Scottish Agriculture: A discussion document, SRUC’s Response. (S. Thomson, S. Ringrose, & A. Barnes, Eds.) Scotland.

51. Sumberg, J., Nana, A. A., Leavy, J., Dolf, J. T., & Wellard, K. (2012). Introduction: The young people and agriculture 'problem' in africa. IDS Bulletin, 43(6).

52. Sumberg, J., Yeboah, T., Flynn, J., & Nana, A. A. (2017). Young people’s perspectives on farming in Ghana: A Q study. Food Security, 9(1), 151–161. doi:

53. Susilowati, S. H. (2014). Attracting the young generation to engage in agriculture. FFTC-RDA International Seminar on Enhanced Entry of Young Generation into Farming Oct. 20-24 Jeonju, Korea. Jeonju, Korea: FFTC.

54. Tadele, G., & Gella, A. A. (2012, 11). ‘A last resort and often not an option at all’: Farming and young people in Ethiopia. IDS Bulletin, 43(6), 33-43.

55. Taghibaygi, M., Maisam, R., & Sayed, A. M. (2015). Analysis students’ motivation in vocational schools and agricultural training centers in Kermanshah Province toward studying the field of agriculture. International Journal of Advanced Biological and Biomedical Researc, 3(1), 105-114.

56. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs [UN-DESA]. (2016). The World’s Cities in 2016 – Data Booklet (ST/ESA/ SER.A/392). United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. New York:. Retrieved from

57. United Nations, (UN). (2018). World youth report: Youth and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Department of Economic and Social Affairs. New York: United Nations. Retrieved from

58. Vandana, S. (2007). The Not So Green Revolution: Lessons from India. In A. Nærstad (Ed.), African Can Feed itself  (pp. 142-150). Oslo, Norway: the organizing committee of the conference in Oslo, Norway June 6-8th 2007: Can Africa Feed Itself?

59. Watt, H. M. (2005). Exploring Adolescent Motivations for Pursuing Maths-Related Careers. Australian Journal of Educational & Developmental Psychology, Volume 5, pp. 107-116.

60. Watt, H. M., & Richardson, P. W. (2007). Motivational factors influencing teaching as a career choice: development and validation of the FIT-Choice scale. The Journal of Experimental Education, 75(3), 167-202 . doi:10.3200/JEXE.75.3.167-202

61. Watts, S., & Harrison, J. (2017). Analysis - Farming on the verge of a workforce crisis. Retrieved 11 23, 2017, from

62. WHO. (2018). Health and sustainable development - Nutrition insecurity and unhealthy diets. Retrieved from

63. Wigfield, A., & Cambria, J. (2010). Students’ achievement values, goal orientations, and interest: Definitions, development, and relations to achievement outcomes. Developmental Review, 30, 1-35. doi:10.1016/j.dr.2009.12.001

64. Wigfield, A., & Eccles, J. S. (1992). The Development of Achievement Task Values: A Theoretical Analysis. DEVELOPMENTAL REVIEW, 12, 265-310.

65. Wigfield, A., & Eccles, J. S. (2000). Expectancy–Value Theory of Achievement Motivation. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 68–81. doi:10.1006/ceps.1999.1015

66. Yong, A. G., & Pearce, S. (2013). A beginner’s guide to factor analysis: Focusing on exploratory factor analysis. Tutorials in Quantitative Methods for Psychology, 9(2), 79-94. doi: