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Exploiting Agribusiness Opportunities in Africa: Food Security, Employment, and Economic growth

Photo credit: esoko.com

In various continents of the world, Agribusiness has been known to be a driver of economic growth. In Africa, it has a positive impact as it accounts for 30% of national income as well as a bulk of export revenues and employment. Kenya for example, is a key producer of tea, accounting for 59.6% of total production in Africa. The country is a leading tea exporter and one of the largest black tea producers in the world. With an estimate of 33 million small holder farms in Africa, a vibrant agriculture driven economy can cause increase in yields, increase in income generation, reduce in post- harvest losses and thereby put an end to food wastage. Agribusiness is capable of initiating the agricultural growth that will positively improve the livelihood of Africa’s increasing population. It can fasten Africa’s progress towards development.

In Nigeria for example, over 78.4 million people are willing, able and actively looking for job, development in agribusiness can have a direct impact on this people because an efficient and effective agribusiness will lead to increased employment in agro industrial activities.

Agribusiness does not only cover farmers it covers input suppliers, agro processors, traders, exporters and retailers. It is a term which indicates farming and all other industries, and services, that constitute the supply chain. The business of agriculture is not to be neglected in development priorities, the focus should not only be on urban industrialization, government need to get their role right on building necessary industrial capability and capacity, strengthening managerial capacity and promoting institutional services.

To successfully achieve desired result in agribusiness, understanding and comprehension of the nature of the business and its untapped opportunities is important. Food importation in African countries has to reduce and promotion of local agricultural products has to be carried out adequately. Although there are challenges as regards climate, policies, governance, laws, infrastructure and basic services, the goals to end poverty, hunger, have improved nutrition and sustainable agriculture should be a focus that will ensure motivation. To reduce the incidence of extreme poverty and unemployment, increase in importation, massive migration of rural peasants into the cities, agribusiness needs to be promoted and financially supported efficiently and effectively.

Africa’s projected population by 2050 is 2 billion; the continent has an estimate of more than one- fourth of the total un-fed people in the world. To guide against starvation, rapid rise in food prices, severe malnutrition, food riots, extreme poverty, higher rate of social vices and diseases; there is indeed a crucial need, to exploit the opportunities in agribusiness and make the business of agriculture more productive and profitable like never before so as to achieve improved social outcomes and solve the problem of poverty and food insecurity.

For a better result, Africa needs to take important decisions concerning agribusiness opportunities and act in a better way.

Written by Idowu T.Owoeye

 

How I resigned my teaching job in Lagos to start a big farming business in Sokoto – CEO Sawah Farms

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Ezedike Fredrick on his farm

Editors Note:

Ezedike Fredrick is a “northern farmer” who hails from Imo State.  He is a graduate of Pure and Applied Physics from Lodoke Akintola University (LAUTECH) Fredrick’s interest in agribusiness developed during his youth service year when his students became his friends. They took him to their various farms after school hours and enlightened him about the business of agriculture. He was encouraged to buy bags of onions for storage and make extra money apart from his NYSC allawe. Unfortunately, the onions spoilt but He did not give up! In fact, the situation triggered him to have a better interest in farming. Today, he is an onion, garlic and tomatoes farmer and CEO of Sawah Farms based in Sokoto state, Nigeria. Fredrick is our Young Agropreneur of the Month!

Introduction 

My name is Ezedike Fredrick. I hail from Nwagele Local Government Area, Imo State.  I had my primary and secondary school education in Lagos, so I will say I was born and brought up in Lagos State. I studied Pure and Applied Physics from Lodoke Akintola University (LAUTECH). Great Lado-ki-te!

How did you develop the interest in Agriculture and when did you consider it as a business to venture into?

My interest in agriculture developed during youth service year in Wurno Local Government Area, Sokoto State. I was posted to a school and my first new friends were the students I taught Physics, my new friends enlightened me about farming by taking me to their individual farms. They encouraged me to buy bags of onions for storage and make extra money apart from the NYSC allawe – assuring me that within few months, before my passing out parade day I would make huge returns. Unfortunately, the onions spoilt but I did not give up! In fact, the situation triggered me to be very interested in farming. This is because I wanted to know what caused the spoilage of my onions.

What aspect of Agriculture do you practice?

When service year ended, I travelled back home to Lagos but before I did, I bought a cow with the little money I had and left  the cow in Wurno with one of my friends because I knew I was still going to travel back. I worked in Lagos for some time hoping to get funds and go back to farming, but it did not work out as planned.

In March 2015, I resigned from the teaching job I got in Lagos and went back to Sokoto to learn about farming- with no money and no plan of how I was going to get accommodation. The only source of getting income was the cow I bought and left behind after youth service. Also, Language (Hausa) was another barrier but I moved around with my young friends, and volunteered to take free English lessons, this made me popular with other people around. I learnt the Hausa language and was able to communicate well with people about my wants and as God will do it a lot of people gave me advice on what to get and how to start farming. I presently specialize in the area of onions, garlic, and tomatoes farming.

Can you tell us the challenges you faced while starting up?

My main challenge while starting up with agribusiness in the northern part of Nigeria was having to call the names of chemicals used in farming in the local language (Hausa) and not in English. Also in the area of nursery development, the rain was a major factor that destroyed the seed beds while growing up.

What societal problem are you experiencing, and what measures have you implemented to curb it?  

The major societal problem that affects my business directly is the inability to get people that are educated technology wise. Also, communication is very much needed in farming – most of the rural farmers don’t have a means of communication talk less of knowing how to operate a phone. I buy phones and give to some farmers I work with, I also teach them how to operate it – so as to ease our work as a team.

What do you think about youth participation in Agriculture? Do you think funding is a major challenge for youths?

 

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I believe if the youths participate in agriculture like the way they do in the entertainment industry, Nigeria’s economy will grow. For now youth participation is still not impactful. Youths should be aware of what they are getting into- before thinking of how to fund it. In an area where a fund is available and a youth is not enlightened about what to farm- of what use is such fund! Funding is not the only challenge. Youths should show seriousness, commitment, zeal and passion for farming.

What advice do you have for young people still thinking of going into agriculture?

My advice to the young people thinking of going into agriculture is that they should first forget about making a quick profit. ‘First know what you are getting
into because it is not a course but a life experience’ so be ready to be hard working.

What do you think the government should put in place to improve the agricultural sector in Nigeria?
The government should farm directly. They have hectares all over Nigeria, let them    get involved and see what farmers go through in terms of getting inputs like chemicals, seeds, and fertilizer. They should subsidize inputs and encourage farmers to expand their agribusiness. They should also concentrate on areas known for the production of certain food crops in the past and find out why it is no more as productive as it was then –this will help them have an appropriate solution to solve such a problem.

Ezedike Fredrick  – CEO, Sawah Farms

Email: Sawahfarms@gmail.com

Twitter: @Sawahfarms

Why our stereotypes of African agriculture are all wrong

Image REUTERSMike Hutchings Why our stereotypes of African agriculture are all wrong

Photo credit: REUTERS Mike Hutchings

From newspaper editors to TV anchors to bloggers, the default symbol of African agriculture is an African woman holding a hand hoe. This imagery highlights the drudgery African women face in farming. But it also conflates family farming with the broader agricultural enterprise.

As I argue in The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa, farming is only a small but important part of the agribusiness value chain. The value chain includes resource data processing, input provision, production, aggregating (covering bulking, cleaning and grading), processing and packaging, retailing and recycling. Making the value chain work efficiently involves connecting farmers to markets.

As noted in a recent report by the Tony Elumelu FoundationUnleashing Africa’s Agricultural Entrepreneurs, the sector “accounts for 32% of Africa’s gross domestic product, and employs over 65% of its labour force.”

Taking the value chain approach, the World Bank has estimated that Africa’s agribusiness market will reach $1 trillion in 2030. This estimate does not include auxiliary industries that will arise from the expansion of the sector.

For example, efficient markets rely on effective information flow. New firms such as Gro Intelligence are emerging to fill the data gap. Similarly, the expansion of rural energy, transport, irrigation and telecommunications infrastructure will also spur the rise of support industries.

From newspaper editors to TV anchors to bloggers, the default symbol of African agriculture is an African woman holding a hand hoe. This imagery highlights the drudgery African women face in farming. But it also conflates family farming with the broader agricultural enterprise.

As I argue in The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa, farming is only a small but important part of the agribusiness value chain. The value chain includes resource data processing, input provision, production, aggregating (covering bulking, cleaning and grading), processing and packaging, retailing and recycling. Making the value chain work efficiently involves connecting farmers to markets.

As noted in a recent report by the Tony Elumelu FoundationUnleashing Africa’s Agricultural Entrepreneurs, the sector “accounts for 32% of Africa’s gross domestic product, and employs over 65% of its labour force.”

Taking the value chain approach, the World Bank has estimated that Africa’s agribusiness market will reach $1 trillion in 2030. This estimate does not include auxiliary industries that will arise from the expansion of the sector.

For example, efficient markets rely on effective information flow. New firms such as Gro Intelligence are emerging to fill the data gap. Similarly, the expansion of rural energy, transport, irrigation and telecommunications infrastructure will also spur the rise of support industries.

Too much focus on farming

This is one of the ways the long value chain of agribusiness serves as a driver for industrial transformation. Few other sectors offer Africa such a broad range of opportunities for technological innovation and entrepreneurial development. There are templates for business models that can be readily adopted. The key is to define agribusinesses as learning opportunities from the outset, as demonstrated by the work of the Africa Atlantic Holdings.

Past efforts to promote agribusiness were not successful partly because of the narrow focus on farming. This approach also failed to appreciate the importance of investing in basic rural infrastructure without which neither production nor markets can function. In addition, the focus on farming precluded consideration of the role of higher technical training in agribusiness.

The general policy prescription was that farmers did not need more than primary education to function. In many cases, agriculture is more complex that manufacturing, where many functions can be automated and products can be generated just in time. The complex process of plant or animal growth demands more versatile knowledge sources and husbandry that cannot be readily automated.

The focus on farming also created biases in the provision of incentives such as credit, insurance and technical support to farmers. Urban enterprises, especially those involved in manufacturing, have access to a wide range of enabling incentives. The same is not true of agriculture, especially where it is perceived narrowly as farming. Agribusiness needs to be supported like other ventures. Farmers need to be viewed as entrepreneurs and innovators, not simply as producers for downstream operations.

A bright future for agribusiness in Africa

The good news is that young people in many parts of Africa see great potential in agribusiness. But it needs to be put on par with other sectors. Because of a long history of neglect, young people venturing in to agribusiness lack access to capital. But even more critical is the lack of mentors who can guide them through the early phases of their start-ups.

In addition to mentorship, young agripreneurs could also benefit from investment in adequate infrastructure. They already know the power of mobile technology. But what they might need most is access to broadband, which also helps link them to knowledge centres given the absence of extension services. Today, the cost of broadband is prohibitively expensive, despite the fact that it is essential for dynamic business operations.

One possible way to resolve this could be to provide “broadband grants” in the same way the US government provided “land grants”. Private enterprises can also purchase broadband and donate it to selected agribusiness start-ups as part of their corporate social responsibility.

There are many opportunities for leveraging the growing interest in agribusiness to expand the sector. These opportunities are diverse and lie not only along the full value chain, but also in farms of all sizes – small, medium-sized and large. The starting point should not be driven by opportunity or ideology or dogma about farm size. There are many enterprises that do engage in agribusiness but if given an opportunity they could diversify into the sector. This could be enterprises that are seeking new opportunities.

In China, for example, coal-mining firms are starting to diversify into agribusiness in light of new restrictions imposed on the sector to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In Africa, some oil companies might also explore moving into agribusiness given the uncertainties in the sector.

Agribusiness in Africa needs to be nudged towards a tipping point from which it can take off. The push will need to come from a collaboration between government, business, academia and civil society. It will require a collective effort.

Modernizing African agriculture

One additional way to promote agribusiness is to recognize individuals or organizations that have made outstanding contributions to different sections of the value chain. Many of the existing prizes tend to focus on production, thereby reinforcing the narrow farming image. The newly established Africa Food Prize, with a judging panel chaired by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, could serve as a role model in emphasizing the agribusiness approach in its awardees.

The good news is that African governments, as illustrated by the case of Nigeria, are starting to appreciate the importance of agribusiness in long-term economic transformation. But appreciation is not enough. We not only need heads of state and government to serve as champions, we also need policy consistency. The two are important because of the long-term nature of agricultural transformation.

In one of her signature appeals for the modernization of African agriculture, the chairperson of the African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, said that hand-held hoe should be in the museum, not in the hands of African farmers. The quickest way to consign this symbol of drudgery to the history books is to shift our thinking from traditional farming to agribusiness. That is the root of Africa’s coming prosperity.

Originally published here http://bit.ly/1TYa2i2

Increased agricultural investments in Africa, an absolute necessity

Ten years ago, African leaders peered into the future and decided to plan ahead. They agreed to invest at least 10% of their national budgets into Agriculture in what is called the Maputo Declaration. Unfortunately, so far, only a handful of countries have lived up to that promise.

These include Ghana, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali and Burkina-Faso. Others, in contrast, are yet to fulfill this agreement. Nigeria, for example, has reduced its allocation annually, with a mere 1.47% allocated to agriculture in the year 2014. The question, therefore, is what needs to be done?

Poverty, hunger, food insecurity and wastage are sadly characteristics that African countries – like Nigeria my country – all have in common. This is indeed sad because Africa is blessed with all we require to feed ourselves and the rest of the world. Aside this is the increasing youth unemployment that is becoming an increasing burden to our economies. All these are issues we all know and have many times discussed. But of course we cannot keep dwelling on problems.

Less talk, more action

So let’s talk about solutions. In my opinion, the examples of successful African countries need to be studied carefully and, if possible, copied. The viable policies, implementation plans, programs and projects underpinning these successes should be replicated especially among countries in the same region with similar socioeconomic conditions. There is also a need to move from paying lip service to actions that show a true sense of commitment to agricultural investment. As a young person I must mention the need for viable empowerment programmes for the youth in agriculture.

Solutions driven policies

Governments need to pay attention to the next generation of farmers who are highly energetic and also interestingly trying to find a path in the sector. This will also help dispel some of the negative impressions around agriculture. Our leaders need to develop solution driven policies that will create an enabling environment for these young people looking to create a future through farming.

They also need to develop partnerships and collaborations with the private sector for the capacity-building of youth and women in agriculture, develop the value chain, improve access to market locally, regionally and globally. Governments also need to be proactive in providing infrastructure that make rural economies beneficial for agri-producers and other rural dwellers. Of course a better ICT-driven extension service that will let all players in the sector have prompt access to needed information is also of high importance.

In investing in agriculture, African countries have a lot to benefit. Poverty alleviation, massive employment generation, women empowerment, foreign exchange and trade, quality nutrition for citizens and of course the ability to not only feed themselves but others. Doing agriculture by increasing investment in the sector should not be an option; it is indeed a necessity that must be paid attention to more than ever before. Our leaders need to move on from just admitting agriculture is important but also take all required action to increase investment and transform the sector. They just have to DO AGRIC.

This blog post by the author was first published on the ONE Campaign website

ONE is campaigning for African leaders to keep their promises to invest in Agriculture. Join the campaign and sign our DO Agric petition now.

Communique- “HELPING SMALL SCALE FARMERS ACCESS GRANTS AND LOANS”-

Panelist at the Seminar/Photo Credit-OlawaleOJO

Panelist at the Seminar/Photo Credit-OlawaleOJO

On the 18th of March 2014, HEDA Resource Centre organised a one day Seminar on helping smallholders access grants and loan. It was held at the Lagos Travel Inn Ikeja, bringing together all related stakeholders including smallholders themselves, AGROPRENEUR Nigeria was opportune to be part of it. Below is the official communique of the seminar.

COMMUNIQUE

1. The Seminar had in attendance cross section of farmers associations, individual farmers, agricultural researchers, representatives of relevant government agencies, agricultural financing institutions, agricultural  support service organizations, CSO advocacy groups, etc.
2. The key speaker acknowledged that Nigerian agric sector is yet to fulfill its key objectives of food production and security, employment creation and wealth generation because small scale farmers have been neglected by agric agencies of governments at all levels
3. Often times government’s agric policies target large scale farmers whose products are largely exported unlike small scale farmers whose products are largely consumed locally. Small scale farmers represent 90% of farming population and they produce 80% of the gross domestic food production.
4. Small scale farmers are often over-shadowed by “political farmers” in their quest to access government grants, credits and support programmes.
5. Speakers at the seminar identified key challenges faced by small scale farmers including:
(a) Small scale farmers lack adequate access to agric grants and credit. The credits are often issued on very high interests.
(b) They lack adequate access to information about beneficial government policies and programmes
(c) Small scale farmers lack capacity to use effective and modern management techniques in running profitable farms and agric businesses.
(d) Cooperative associations of small scale farmers are often threatened by leadership crises
(e) Challenges of corruption, lack of transparency, etc threaten access of small scale farmers to credit and other opportunities.
(f) Youths and women face the challenges of low interest and motivation, exclusion and limited access to participate in small scale farming
6. Participants raised the following recommendations:
(a) Small scale farmers should strengthen their cooperative groups to engage with government and other stakeholders including agric financing institutions
(b) Women and youths should be encouraged to participate in small scale farming as a means of overcoming challenges of unemployment
(c) Channels of information dissemination and communication between small scale farmers, government and financing institutions should be strengthened.
(d) Interests rates charged on agric credits as well as the procedures of accessing them should be liberalized.
(e) Effective collaboration between farmers, government, financing agencies, CSOs and other development partners should be strengthened to facilitate better productivity of the agric sector as a whole.

Nigerian Youth Involvement in Agriculture: The Image Factor

By Oluwabunmi Ajilore

Bunmi

Years ago, I asked a friend whose father was first an agriculturist before becoming a politician (a serving senator) how his father got rich, and he told me pointedly that “through farming”. Ever inquisitive, I asked “How?” and his response was “Bunmi, if you go into real agriculture, though you might struggle for some time, but once you become established then it’s almost like money ritual”.

Naturally I would have had a problem believing his answer, but having known him for years, plus the impression I got from meeting his father a few times, and my ‘limited experience’ in the field of agriculture then made me believe him completely.

Truly agriculture is a goldmine, and the ever-expanding population (over 167 million at last estimate) means more and more people are (and will be) depending on your service for nourishment and other vitals to stay alive.

Yet, despite this somewhat obvious fact and the monstrous level of unemployment among the youths of Nigeria, few people are giving any thought or really willing to explore this goldmine. And looking at it over the years, as a trained agriculturist (never mind I later veered off into environmental biology), I have come to the conclusion, though I won’t claim credit for this, that the major obstacle standing in the way of young Nigerians from going into agriculture is the image problem.

Yes I know there are a myriad of other problems like the land tenure system, somersaulting government policies, bad linkage roads, electricity etc… but all these and many more seemingly intractable problems exist in other endeavours where the indomitable spirit of the Nigerian youth has triumphed and is already establishing Nigeria on the international map.

The music industry, or probably the entertainment industry in its entirety, is a classic example of this. Nollywood, comedy industry, fashion design, even literature and arts. Despite perennial problems of piracy, inadequate or outdated equipment, paucity of funds, initial lethargy or low response of the populace etc, Nigerians (mostly youths) in these fields have been able to excel, building up entirely hitherto non-existent industries in the process. Gone are the days when someone introducing himself as a professional comedian will elicit reactions like disbelief and rolling of the eyes, or when an introduction as a fulltime actor will be trailed by hard questions.

Back to agriculture; as I posited earlier, the major factor preventing the youths in Nigeria from going into farming is the image problem. Nobody wants to be identified with hoe and cutlass (which sadly are still the lot of our peasant farmers) in this age of jets and SUVs; nobody wants to till the land and wait a year or more for a meager profit when his contemporaries in other fields sit behind computers in air-conditioned rooms and make cool cash.

Even at the university level, most students who studied agriculture and related courses studied it not because they wanted to but more often because of lower SSCE and UME scores, intense competition for limited spaces, and the Nigerian factor (Man-know-Man), which prevent them from getting the courses of their choice. They are what a professor I once attended his inaugural lecture referred to as academic refugees. In the end, some get to see the light midway and embrace it, but for others, even after graduation, it’s a no-win contest; the banks and cool offices are the ultimate destinations, and after five years of active service, the plants and animals can fend for themselves. Little wonder all the Back-to-Land, Feed-the-Nation and other green revolution programmes have failed.

Still, we can get the youths back to, and get them engaged in, this tasking (it takes patience) but productive and profitable business. But first, we need to revamp the image of agriculture from an endeavour fit only for villagers, illiterates and retired military officers (with easily acquired lands and lots of money to invest in machinery) to one that is profitable for youths and needs their energy, drive and innovation.

And just like in other industries where people are celebrated for their contributions, we need to tell the success stories of those who have made it, and/or are still making it, in the farming business – and you would be surprised there are many.

We need to celebrate those doing a good job of feeding us, because beyond government intervention, policy and direct pumping of money into agriculture, getting youths engaged in agricultural productivity, for the purpose of food security and employment (which itself will solve many other problems), will involve dismantling the negative notions or persuading them to unlearn the negative things they have learned about farming. The battle is mainly in the mind and has to be won there.

Once that single battle is won and the youths are persuaded, or get to see agriculture as a profitable venture, then the ‘Invisible hand’ can take care of the rest – just like in the entertainment industry.

Picture: Myself and colleagues during our farm-only one year as fourth year undergraduates. The picture was taken 7 years ago and we were engaged in one of the stages (pressing) of processing cassava into garri (cassava flakes), a widely popular local food commodity (especially for the poor) in the Nigeria. It was an on-the-farm processing unit. Nice time, it was!

First Published on YPARD BLOG

 

AGRICULTURE AND AGRIBUSINESS, YOUTH DYNAMISM AS STRATEGIC TURNAROUND IN NIGERIA – PART 2

???????????Agriculture is the backbone of any dynamic and forward looking economy with Nigeria not in exception. It plays an important role in socio-economic development by ensuring food security, providing raw materials for foreign & local industries; generate foreign exchange and income for most of the population, majority of which is rural-based as well as providing employment and other strategic rural – urban economic turnaround opportunities.

These turnaround opportunities are evident in two economies like Brazil and South Africa; these two had turned around their rural areas through agriculture and agribusiness and with youths as the centre into semi and major urban centers. The guest speaker from Brazil at the last 6th economic conference – Ehingbeti 2012 said Brazil has achieved 70% of rural turned urban cities with agriculture as a key part of other factors. Mr Langa Zita, the Director General of the department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, Republic of South Africa reiterated that the government of South Africa had made agriculture cum agribusiness as the pivot for employment and transformation opportunities in the rural cum urban city projects but with YOUTHS at the heart of it. This they have achieved success tremendously.

Many young people around Africa and Nigeria are beginning to see and experience the advantages and benefit that comes with getting active in agriculture and agribusiness. Gbenga studied Accounting from the University of Ilorin; he got a job with a multinational company just a few months after his youth service. Even at that he still went into agriculture; four years down the line, he started with fish rearing and presently he has a poultry farm and i can still visualize how every morning the number business of people doing eggs, feeds and other business. At our last discussion, he has started training in pig farming which is the next prospect. His network of the business, techno-agro symbiotic management is the trade secret but with a youthful oriented workforce.

In Sierra Leone, Arthur William had a dream of starting a company when he graduated. He shared his vision with three friends who extended it to the whole class of seven in the department of Agricultural Engineering at the Njala University in 2009. They donated 5 US Dollar monthly for this purpose; Overtime the contributors dropped to three people since others could not meet up. In 2010, they invested this seed money in 30 acres of land with oil palm plantation, Rice, Cassava, Vegetable and fruit trees like mango and oranges were planted. The revenue obtained from these products was used to expand the business and support their Post Graduate studies. They also operated at very low cost by getting help from about 20 other youths in the community who got paid not on a monthly basis but by getting 40% of the profit from the sales made. This proved successful and a means to encourage other youth into agriculture.

These two are just a few of many young people who despite the challenges have made use of the opportunities open to them in agriculture and agribusiness. The solution to the problem of food insecurity as the population increases lies in our hands as Nigerian youths. Some ways we can have a good start as successful agric-entrepreneur (Agroprenuer) is to do the following:

  • Take active interest and grow a passion for agriculture and its business and a particular aspect that can network other areas as a cycle.
  • Think Big with a business plan and entrepreneurial advice from Banks, consultants but always start small, within the capacity you can afford and handle.
  • Be well informed about the aspect of agriculture you want to go into especially the risks involved and the market value of product at each stage of the value chain.
  • Network with other young people. There are a lot of youth out there who are already into agriculture. Attend Seminars and workshop on agriculture and agribusiness even if you have to pay.
  • Acquire practical knowledge. Read books, manuals, journals and work for others on their farms to gain experience and exposure.
  • Get training in business planning, marketing and management it has proved very helpful because a major challenge of most agriculturists in Nigeria is their inability to build a business plan and market to their products.
  • Be observant and open to new information, techniques etc.
  • Be ready to be a team player, most aids from the government and the Bank of Agriculture sometimes require you are in a group of ten or there about. So start watching out for young people you can join hands and work together
  • Follow the trend of activities around you to get updated about opportunities open to you through programs like YOUWIN, FADAMA, Agric Growth Enhancement Scheme(GES), First Bank Farm Scheme and others that would be coming on soon under the Agric transformation agenda.

FG urged to commit more money into Agriculture, encourage Youths

We do not even meet up to the CAADP requirement of 10% so the request for more investment is really needed

Kalu Samuel's Blog

Abuja, Aug. 12, 2013 (NAN) The Federal Government has been urged to commit 23 per cent of its annual budget for 10 years to agriculture in order to make serious impact in the sector.

The Programme Coordinator of Civil Society Coalition for Poverty Eradication (CISCOPE), MrPeter Egwudah, made the call in Abuja on Monday at a news conference to mark the International Youth Day 3013.

He said in order to meet the targets of the Vision 20:2020, agriculture needed to grow at an annual rate of 10 per cent.
“It will make the economy to grow at eight per cent rate necessary to become one of the 20 largest economies by 2020”, he said.

Egwudah contended that the country’s budgetary allocation to agriculture was not enough, adding that it had to do more to meet global target.

He urged government to invest massively in agriculture, in accordance with the 2003…

View original post 386 more words

AGRICULTURE AND AGRIBUSINESS, YOUTH DYNAMISM & TURNAROUND IN NIGERIA- I

 

Funky farmers

Funky farmers

Everyday the population of Nigeria increases. An international survey on African nations population indicates that in 2030, Nigeria’s population, which now stands at 163million, would hit a staggering 300 million. This data in relation to today, speaks of the need to urgently find solutions to the eradication of food insecurity and poverty with various dynamic and strategic policies, programmes etc. to bring about social and economic development that can be sustainable. However, there is a big problem to food security solutions from Agriculture in relation to this another report shows that the average age today of a Farmer in Nigerian is between 55 and 60 years and by the year 2030 will rise to between 75 and 80 years. The question that comes to mind is what quantity of food can this old farmers produce for such a rising population by the year 2030 and beyond?

 Interestingly, these old farmers have all the experience, knowledge and information (techniques) of Agriculture and not Agribusiness BUT the truth of the matter is undeniable that the answer lies in the hands of the young and vibrant Nigerian youths today. Nigerian youths are not into agriculture and are not even going into it for various reasons. Many value their certificate and ‘status’ in the community as university graduates; they effortlessly search for white-collar jobs that are in reality non-existent. They do not take agriculture as a business (Agribusiness) that can generate profits and lead to richness like any other successful business. They show little or no interest and view it as work for & of our fore fathers and mothers in the village.

Interestingly though, agriculture goes with the new technology of the modern world, our elders can no longer match or comply with the requirements of current trends and latest modern technological advances in agriculture (mechanization, use of high yielding varieties, application of inputs and weather forecast compliance). This scenario leaves our young people, no better time to act than NOW to take their place, drive the nation in a critical and dynamic area with the knowledge of these technologies, more with their strength, agility and dexterity needed in agriculture.

Skilled young people including agriculture graduates can play a major role in providing services in the rural areas especially in the agriculture sector. Transforming the current subsistence agriculture into an extensive and business oriented one with the food security assured and rural development turned into green urban centres .

Nigeria today is faced with persisting hunger, civil unrest, armed conflicts, poverty, and corruption. We the youths have inherited a poor nation from our elders; a Nigeria though full of opportunities, possibilities and diverse exploitable areas and talents especially in non-oil exports but instead is plagued in poverty and hunger. A nation where development and nation building has been totally dependent on oil instead of depending on agricultural & Agribusiness cum Green urban cities and activities.

In a bid to handle these crises of food insecurity and climate change, the agricultural sector has been receiving much attention from the Local, State & Federal Governments, not forgetting the International community and other Agriculture development partners. It is now more pertinent than ever that resource, incentives and business cum entrepreneur strategies are made available to increase the participation of young people in the sector. Activating the interest and capacities of young entrepreneurs with investment and attractive policy and government support of private small enterprises will drive the sector. Now is the time for youths to develop themselves not as passive development actors but as aggressive and active actors who can achieve a sustainable agricultural sector.

It would be an omission of reality if we do not address the challenges faced by young people as it relates to their involvement in agriculture and agribusiness. These include:

·        High level of poverty and corruption, resulting in a desire for quick money.

·        Unfavorable Government policies as it relate to land acquisition and funding for agricultural purpose particularly for young agriculture entrepreneurs or small private Agribusiness farms.

·        The large gap between the mindset perception of success and opportunities of post academics in white-collar jobs (Private & Public), business etc, to research and the Agriculture and Agribusiness industry.

·        Lack of access to proper information and orientation to accept agriculture as the new revenue stream.

·        Inadequate infrastructures

·        Lack of entrepreneurship possibilities, incentives & training among majority of youths

Even at that, there are examples of numerous young people in Nigeria and other African countries in Agriculture, which have success stories that the sector is not really a challenge but an area untapped and due for plucking. In the next part, we shall look at practical and possible means of other young people as success points to spur, encourage and drive interest in other youths. More so, the private sector and government focus by their support in youth participation