IITA Youth Agripreneur

Agribusiness Incubation: A Young Agropreneur’s Story, Post Incubation

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Johnbosco on the farm

This month we bring you a model youth of the IITA youth Agripreneur who was mentored to see Agriculture as a business. Today he has moved on to make for himself a growing and thriving business in plantain, banana and pineapple sucker production and multiplication among others, he distributes his suckers to various locations across Nigeria while he also helps farm setups both in Nigeria and diaspora with their farm management and setup. He also gives training on the production and business aspect of his mandate crops.

JohnBosco has since realized that picking agriculture as a business is the only work of life that is capable of giving massive percentage return on investment with eye-catching cost benefit ratio and higher curve of income, only if seen as a business. He thanks IITA for taking the lead to walk the talk on Youth in Agribusiness in Africa and encourages the Private and Public sectors and the world to rise up and walk the talk with proactive measures to help Youth see Agriculture as a business.

JohnBosco advices young people who have failed before in their agribusiness not to see it as a setback as every time invested in business has an impact and enables us see ways doing business in a particular way would’nt work.

In this piece he reveals how he started and projects he is currently working on in the value chain and discusses challenges faced as it relates to youth engagement in Nigeria.

Q1. Can you briefly introduce yourself? How was growing up like for you?

Answer: My name is Ezemenaka Johnbosco, preferably called Bosco by fans. I come from Anambra state, born and brought up in Ibadan. I grew up as a normal child with passion for business and development, but with no formal foresight of what sector of business I wanted as a child. Now, I’m the C.E.O of AgroBosco – Agribusiness and Consulting, Founder – International Forum for Youth in Agribusiness ‘IFYA’ (a virtual non-formalized platform), Agribusiness Analyst for Aroms Farms Nigeria Limited and Program Manager for McPennin Nigeria Limited.

Q2. Can you please tell us how you came into farming/agribiz? Do you have a background in Agric? If No, Tell us why you considered agriculture?

Answer: I have an Agricultural background in Soil Science and Land Management, Agricultural Extension and Rural Development. There’s no doubt I had the background from a Federal Agricultural University, still I had no clue of what aspect of life I was going to make that money from, even as at my fourth year as an undergraduate. I eventually graduated and as luck would play its role, I found myself in International Institute of Tropical Agriculture as my place of primary assignment as a Youth Corper serving my nation.

I was mentored and spawned to see Agriculture as a business. From there, I gained momentum with a crystal clear vision and goal to my independence and self-sustainability, so I decided to scramble for professional experience in Agribusiness Development, Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, Public Management and Leadership.

Picking up Agribusiness as my part of life is simply because Agriculture is the ONLY work of life that is capable of giving you massive Percentage Return on Investment with eye-catching Cost Benefit Ratio and higher Curve of Income, only if seen as a business.

John bosco working on the farm

Q3. What aspect or nature of work in Agriculture do you practise? Briefly, Tell us about your work?

Answer: With practical experience in maize seed production, soybean seed production, cassava production / stem multiplication, plantain / banana fruit production and rapid sucker multiplication using macro-propagation technique and pineapple production / rapid sucker multiplication, this has helped me setup my own company. I give trainings on the aforementioned crops, help clients near and in diaspora set up farms and management, help develop Agribusiness companies in line with their business strategies to meet their business goals, help develop business plans, project plans and proposals with groovy and keen attention in Agri-start-ups for Youths.

Q4. What societal problems are you solving with your work and what solutions are you using? What are the hurdles currently being faced?

Johnbosco facilitating Macro-propagation of Hybrid Plantain

Answer: I have been giving trainings on the production and business aspect of my mandate crops to Youths and Farmers for self dependence, sustainability and enhanced income. Since commercial banks hardly finance Youths to start their venture, I’m working on providing Agri-finance with the Co-Founder of International Forum for Youths in Agribusiness – IFYA through ‘crowd-funding’ (micro fund raising through our members on the IFYA virtual platform) to set up Agri start-ups (maximum of $26,000 USD with an approved business plan).

Q5. What do you think about youth participation in Agriculture?

Answer: Youth participation is Agriculture is just the tool-box for significantly increasing food security, reducing world poverty and unemployment to ALARP level. Statistically, Youth make up the highest percentage of world’s population density with significant physiological and morphological capacity capable of deactivating the world time bomb. There’s no two ways about using Youth as a veritable tool.

Q6. What are the challenges of youth engagement in agribusiness as it relates to what you do, How do you think it is affecting Agricultural Entrepreneurship in Nigeria?

Answer: There are numerous challenges faced by Youth engaged in Agribusiness. The primary and number one challenge is ‘change of mindset’, others are secondary. Youths should have their mindset changed about Agriculture, the Private and Public sectors should help Youth see Agriculture as a business. A proactive concept and programs with strong Monitoring and Evaluation should be developed in all continents to tackle this and not just financing start-ups for Youths. Special regards to the IITA’s concept of Youth in Agribusiness, as a model in Africa. I tell you this; if you give a Youth $1 billion for an Agribusiness venture without having his/her mindset changed about seeing Agriculture as a business and the prospects attached to it, then you just poured water into a basket. I know there are so many programs and concepts about changing the mindset of Youths towards seeing Agriculture as a business, but the world has to rise and walk the talk with proactive measures. More regards to IITA for taking the lead to walk the talk on Youth in Agribusiness in Africa.

Johnbosco at the IITA youth Agripreneur incubation plot

In Nigeria, this has greatly affected negatively, considering the teeming Youth population moving into Nigerian labour market quarterly, and then you can figure out how devastating this is in Africa, having Nigeria as the most populous country in Africa. Just figure it out! Example: My friend ‘A’ is comfortable working as a freelancer with a bank and receiving a limited token as salary, while my friend ‘B’ quitted his freelancing ICT job for just a commodity in Agribusiness and now making fortune with unlimited revenue and profit generation.

Q7. What advice do you have for young people engaged in agriculture?

Answer: My advice for young people engaged in Agriculture is to see it as a business. Only then will they realise the fortune that awaits them. In business, every time invested has an impact. Failing is normal in life, but they should NEVER see ‘fail’ as a setback in any of the value-chains of Agribusiness they are into, but rather see ‘fail’ as a finding of ways that don’t work.

Q8. What do you think government should put in place to improve the agric sector in Nigeria? Suggest Advice

Answer: Nigeria government should; 1. Take Youth as a tool-box for development of the Agricultural sector. 2. Work on changing the mind-set of the Youths through Non-Governmental Organizations and private sectors who are walking the talk and proactive, and embracing these organizations with resources needed. 3. Significantly reduce the interest rates on loan and to make it easily accessible to the common Youth. Government should be proactive about the aforementioned using aggressive and diplomatic Monitoring and Evaluation framework base approach.

Here is a Youtube video of Johnbosco talking about Plantain Macropropagation in Nigeria.

Contact him via boscowjay@yahoo.com or Blog

Call for Remote Social Media Reporters for the Youth in Agribusiness Development Initiative (YADI) Workshop 28th to 30th May 2014

IYA YPARD

To engage on-site participants, reach out to a wider audience remotely and promote the Youth in Agribusiness

Development Initiative(YADI) Project Conceptualization Workshop which comes up on the 28th to 30th of May 2014 at IITA, Ibadan,Nigeria

The Young Professional in Agricultural Development (YPARD)  Nigeria and the IITA Youth Agripreneur (IYA) is putting

together a Remote Social Reporting Team. This remote social reporting team will be responsible for promoting tweets,

facebook and Google+ messages on their social networks

Remote Social reporting at the YADI Conference is a voluntary task.

 Remote social reporters

Interested social media enthusiasts will have the opportunity to be part of the larger social reporting team that will

participate and contribute remotely to the outreach of the event.

There is no restriction on the age and country for remote social reporters

Being part of the team will provide various networking and capacity building opportunities.

 

How to apply

If you are interested in applying please send an e-mail NOW to ypardnigeria@gmail.com.

 

YOUTH IN ACTION – MY IITA Experience

IITA young agropreneurs

BY Majid  Tokurah

What comes to your mind when you think of a farmer? What comes to mind for most of us is an old man, dressed in overalls, smelling dirty, and chewing on a straw. Though farmers are considered important to food production and the economy of any nation, youth have little interest in agricultural careers. Nowadays most people equate agriculture with farming rather than the wider industry, and with the view that farming is hard, boring, physical labour.

Agriculture is important to the development of any nation, Nigeria is not an exception. Development must include the youth. The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) seeks to encourage youth participation in the agricultural sector. Under the leadership of the Director General Dr.Nteranya Sanginga, IITA initiated a youth program : The IITA Youth Agripreneur, which aims to address the spiraling rate of unemployment among the growing youth population and also deal with the readiness of youths to take up agriculture as a business.

On Thursday the 19th of September I alongside members of the Young Professionals Platform on Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD) Nigeria team was opportune to meet with these youth at the IITA Headquarters in Ibadan, to inform them about the YPARD network and to learn more about the program. At this interactive session, the participants also shared their experiences, and the YPARD Country Representative gave a presentation on the benefits of social media to promote their work as agribusiness professionals.

The IITA Youth Agripreneurs are a group of young graduates involved in agribusiness have their present number at twenty-one (11men and 10 women),the group aims at being a unit that would serve as a model to other young people planning to venture into agribusiness and becoming the trainer of trainers, the program which is an experimental undertaking is now one year in its existence, it seeks to train young graduates and expose them to the various opportunities inherent in agriculture and helps themto identify entry points in the agricultural value chain. These youths who were trained in cassava stem multiplication and root production, sucker multiplication for plantain/banana, maize cultivation and all aspects of maize seed production from the preparation of land to marketing, have also cultivated 12 hectares of improved maize varieties to address the challenge of poor quality seeds which farmers have.

The Agripreneurs look forward to collaborating with sponsors and investors, as one of their future plans is to expand their production. They wish to become self-independent and self-employed, having acquired the necessary knowledge and skills, and ultimately become employers of labor.

One unique thing about them is that they cut across various disciplines that are not agriculture based some of which includes quantity surveying, history, accountancy, economics, statistics but to mention a few ranging from sciences, arts, and social sciences but yet challenged themselves to learn the agricultural operations involved, I believed this has served as a challenge to youths who didn’t study agriculture in the university as a course of study, these youths who were excited to be in the program believed agriculture is practiceable and profitable and they hope to establish their own farms where they can practise what they have learnt from the program.

On my interactions with these youths I observed that they have been able to get the knowledge and experience they need to hold their own agribusiness enterprise,an interview with one of the participants Mr Gbadamosi Muritata said in his words ” I joined IITA Youth Agripreneur in order to acquire knowledge in agriculture and I have come to realize the only sector that creates opportunities for youths is the agriculture sector”. However, I suggest the Federal Government of Nigeria should replicate this program into all states of the Federation to get access to more youth. Also as there are farmers who desperately needs the input of these young agripreneurs produce on their fields, avenues should be created for farmers to access these seeds and banana/plantain suckers. I know and believe the program is a success but more youth still need to be reached.

Picture : A cross-section of youth at the IITA Agripreneur Unit performing the sorting of good stock of maize – PHOTO Credit -IITA

First published here