innovation

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

 

OPINION: The increase of labor-saving machinery and the present state of Nigerian Agriculture, a challenge or not a challenge?

Agricultural machine working in the late evening. Photo credit: Flickr, Ookpik Prod.

Agricultural machine working in the late evening. Photo credit: Flickr, Ookpik Prod.

The introduction of the increase in “labor-saving machinery” for farm practices is indeed a requirement for improved output and productivity; however its implication on agricultural development with the present state of the country should not be overlooked.

According to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Nigeria has over 84 million hectares of arable land of which only 40% of the 84 million hectares is cultivated. Cultivation of the 50.4 million hectares of land, – which is capable of being plowed to grow crops and has huge potential to be productive – is one of the diverse ways in which increased output can be achieved other than focusing squarely on increasing labor-saving machinery in the country.

Increase in mechanized agriculture will definitely replace human labor – in a case of a country with abundant labor the importation of labor saving machinery will not only affect the physical environment negatively but it will create more rural unemployment and may not really cause a reduction in per-unit cost of food production.

Even though improved mechanization will help increase farm output, there are over 78.4 million people in Nigeria  that are within the working age population, these persons  are willing, able and actively looking for work. The striking effect on the quantity of output per worker if “labor-saving machinery” increases cannot be overstated, for example, one man operating a harvester will accomplish in a single hour what will be required by hundreds of men using crude implements. But in a situation, of few land ownership, scarce capital, and high rate of unemployment the importation of labor-saving machinery could increase the problem of poverty and unemployment, and be anti-developmental.

Do we need to ask ourselves how many hectares of land have the potential to be productive? How many have been cultivated on? How sufficient is the capital of the present day Nigerian farmer? How many hectares of land are owned by individual Nigerian farmers? Where does most agricultural activity occur in Nigeria? What is the state of the rural area? It is a known fact that good roads, adequate storage facilities, incentives to farmers, improved farm income and access to credit will attract more youths to agriculture than the increase in labor-saving machinery.

We should focus and fix our most severe agricultural constraints to attract both young and old to agriculture and exploit other opportunities for significant and sustainable land expansion before facing the challenges of labor-saving machinery.

This blog post was written by Idowu T. Owoeye

email; idowuowoeye6@gmail.com

SIMPLE STRATEGIES FOR PROFITABILITY IN YOUR AGRIBUSINESS

Agriculture should be viewed as “agri-profit” since business is all about making profit. Once you have a chosen agribusiness venture, your key profit drivers need prioritized strategies to ensure growth. In making your business more profitable that is increasing sales and revenue as well as decreasing cost and having savings, you should choose and focus on effective agribusiness growth strategies.

Agribusiness strategies transform subsistence activities of low productivity and low value addition to commercially oriented, innovative and modern agribusiness. It will enable you invest your resources technically to trigger profit and growth, and change your thought of just producing to producing to solve  problems and meeting market needs. When you choose to implement agribusiness strategies, it means you choose to allow your produce/product find a positionand meet competitive demands in the market.

Core values that will drive these strategies include:-

  • Efficiency which will be driven by the aim to reach higher competitiveness.
  • Innovation which will be driven by the aim to be impactful.
  • Positivity which will be driven by the aim to sustain performance.

The prioritized strategies include:

Putting Markets at the Center of all Production, Processing, Product Development and Packaging

  • Collate, update and provide relevant, timely and accurate market information to your customers and potential customers.
  • Be specific about your target market and the agribusiness you are into, so as to ensure optimum use of your resources in a particular direction.
  • Promote your produce and products by value addition, for example increase the quantity of your produce or products and still sell at the same price. This definitely doesn’t mean your business will run at a loss. Don’t forget I said agribusiness means agri-profit.
  • Be informed on agribusiness marketing, you can do that by using the internet appropriately and attending organized seminars and programs on agribusiness marketing.

Joining Vibrant Agribusiness Organizations and Forums

  • Connect, network, collaborate and share ideas with people of like minds.
  • Be part of a collective action that will lead to increased bargaining power.
  • Be active in the organization, dialogue and share information that will establish favorable business relationships with other agribusiness managers. This act can spur a member to refer you for business or link you with people that need your services.
  • Be part of organized seminars and programs by the organization or forum. There will be an opportunity for you to market and promote your agribusiness.

Improving on Quality Service to all Customers and Potential Customers

  • Treat all your customers well, definitely loyal customers should be well recognized but all customers deserve a great treat.
  • Satisfy your customers beyond their expectation, they will be motivated to continually patronize and refer you to other people.
  • Motivate steady customers by acknowledging their loyalty and by rewarding them; this can be with a discount, extra produce/ product or gift item. They can also be appreciated with a thank you message or call.
  • Provide concise information of your agribusiness services to all customers and potential customers.
  • Issue receipt to your customers, even if your agribusiness is small. Look at your agribusiness as a dressing that needs to be addressed appropriately. So step up and start issuing receipt.
  • Promote your business on different media (facebook, whatsapp, bbm, twitter,instagram). You can read on digital marketing for more information.
  • Be informed on climate, diseases, market trends to guide against low quality of produce/products and loss, through various means like paying attention to agribusiness news, joining interactive groups and platforms on social media.
  • Be informed about credit services, be part of a mentorship scheme and have a model farmer.

Read And Apply These Strategies To Your Agribusiness And Make Your New Profit Level A Reality. SUCCESS!

This blog post was written by Idowu T. Owoeye

email; idowuowoeye6@gmail.com

A lifestyle of Passion and Hardwork – Atinuke’s story on her Agribusiness and challenges

lebile1

Atinuke on the farm

This month we introduce you to Atinuke Lebile a young agro-entrepreneur without a family farming background but has grown for herself a lifestyle in Agriculture that is inspired by passion and hardwork. Atinuke started her agribusiness year 2014, today she has sole income from her 10 acre farm where she plants plantain, cassava, rice and vegetables while also processing some of her farm products.

Agropreneur Naija had an interview with her where she tells us about herself, how she started her agribusiness enterprise, challenges she faced when she first started up and how she was able to hold on despite the challenges faced.

Q1: Agropreneur, can we meet you?

Answer:  My name is Atinuke Lebile a native of Ondo State, Nigeria. I live in Ibadan, Nigeria. I am a rising young female, social agro-entrepreneur with apt interest in societal and human capital development. I manage La’Luce Foods and Integrated Services. I’m a Strategic Officer at Ogunmod Farms & Farmers and Farmers’ Academy and a Production Manager at Cato Foods and Agro- allied Global Concepts. I have a passion for feeding the nation and I’m so overly excited about agriculture. I was born in December!

Q2: How do you view Agribusiness?

Answer: Agriculture is a lifestyle borne out of passion. In this way I’m able to face challenges and head on when they arise.

Q3: Did you grow up on an Agricultural farm?

Answer:  No, I don’t have a farming family background.

Q4: So, what brought you into Agribusiness?

Answer: Passion and business. In spite of me being a graduate of Agriculture from the University of Ilorin, my venture into agribusiness was largely of passion and the need to do agriculture in a more attractive way like a real profitable business. The need to reduce postharvest losses experienced by farmers and develop the value chain of primary agricultural products also motivated me to go into agribusiness. I still strongly believe agriculture needs to become attractive especially to young people like me; we are the future of Africa.

Q5: When did you venture into Agribusiness?

Answer:  I started agribusiness in the year 2014.

Q6: What Agribusiness do you manage?

Answer:  I am into cultivation of vegetables, plantain, cassava and rice. I package ofada rice, fruits, chips, plantain flour, garri, catfish in various sizes (100g – 50kg), and I’m also involved in agro-processing.

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Atinuke harvesting her corn from the farm.

Q7:  How many acres is your farm?

Answer: 10acres

Q8: Is farming your only source of income?

Answer: YES

Q9: What time does your day start and end?

Answer: My day starts at 4am and ends at 11pm

Q10: Does your family have an influence on your Agribusiness?

Answer: Yes, they do. They respect my choice and provide guidance where and when necessary. Even though while starting my dad was not happy seeing his only daughter going into farming. He has    been a great support, just like every member of my family. Financial and moral support from my family has really been encouraging.

Q11: Did you face any challenge while starting up?

Answer: YES!

Q12: What challenge did you face, and how did you deal with it?

Answer: Funding is a major challenge for startups and I wasn’t exempted in the funding issue. I also faced the challenge of standardization and certification by NAFDAC. I chose to start small to achieve my big dreams in terms of finance. I also learnt a lot from mentors.

Q13: What part of Agribusiness do you find hard?

Answer:  Primary Production

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Atinuke performing irrigation on the soil

Q15: What part of Agribusiness do you find most satisfying?

Answer: The part of having to create products through postharvest processing and cultivate to feed people

Q16: What is the difference in your Agribusiness now and when you started?

Answer: I am still operating at a small scale compared to where I would love to be, but I am not where I used to be. No matter how small progress is, it is still progress anyway.

Q17: Have you ever considered getting out of agriculture for a more lucrative career? Answer: Agriculture is the only sector that has the capacity to create many jobs. My passion has always kept me going. However, there are times that one just feels overwhelmed.

Q18:  How do you see your role in your community?

Answer:  My role in my community is a very crucial one because I provide food on people’s table.

Q19: How do you think the government should implement the change in the agricultural sector?

Answer: There should be strong input from the youths on policy formulations that can drive the agricultural sector in the direction of commercialization and business development. Agricultural inputs should be subsidized and marketing board should be developed.

Q20: Have you seen any change in the present government involvement with agriculture in Nigeria?

Answers:  I believe there will be a change. But I would suggest that they should improve on the achievements of the last administration

Q21: Do you think Nigerians are aware or care about mechanized farming?

Answer: Sure, Nigerians care about mechanized farming

Q22: What changes do you predict the agricultural sector in Nigeria will see over the next 3 years?

Answer: There is going to be more youth involvement. Agriculture will create a lot of jobs and it will benefit from diversified funds.

Q23: Do you have any neighbor, family or friend that have given up Agribusiness?

Answer: YES, a lot.

Q24: What made them choose to give up?

Answer: It was mostly due to the enormous challenges of finance, marketing, climate change, most importantly impatience.

Q25: Do you plan to extend your Agribusiness?

Answer: YES

Q26: What is your plan?

Answer:  To expand postharvest production and create more jobs. I intend to expand production to reach out to more markets.

Q27: What advice would you give a friend that is also an Agropreneur?

Answer: Take Agriculture as a business. It is viable when you give your best to it. Don’t seek overnight success. Agric will not give you sudden wealth but it will build you sustainable wealth. More females need to come into agriculture because females do things with more precision, care and passion.

Follow her on Twitter , Linkedin

 

 

DIY:Knowing your Soil Fertility without a Lab

Just as humans need the right balance of nutrients for good health, so do plants. For example, when tomatoes grow in soil that’s deficient in calcium; they develop blossom-end rot. Sometimes, too much of a nutrient is detrimental: Excessive nitrogen causes lots of leaf growth (such as clematis or peppers) but few flowers or fruits.

What’s the secret to raising healthy Vegetables?  Great  Soil

soili-n-hands

Soil in the hand.

How can you tell if your soil has what plants need? A soil test. When you send a soil sample to a lab, you get a detailed analysis of soil nutrients and you find out about deficiencies. That’s valuable information. Now you can also assess your soil for even more critical qualities.The methods are quite simple and the only supplies you need are a few items commonly found around the house.

  1. SOIL STRUCTURE + TILTH

When the soil is neither too wet nor too dry, dig a hole 6 to 10 inches deep. Separate an intact section about the size of a soup can and break it apart with your fingers. Determine whether the soil is cloddy, powdery, or granular. Ideally, your soil should be made up of different sized crumbs that will hold their shape under slight pressure. Crumbs, or aggregates, as soil scientists call them, that break apart only with difficulty mean your soil is too hard.

Why It’s Important
Soil rich in organic matter tends to form relatively round aggregates, which leads to porosity. Open, porous soils allow the free movement of water and oxygen, he explains, so plants can develop strong, healthy roots.

  1. COMPACTION

Plunge a rod vertically into the soil at different locations. Mark the depth at which the wire bends. The sooner it bends, the more compacted the soil. A foot or more of easily penetrable soil is ideal.

Why It’s Important
Compacted soil inhibits root growth and water availability, and keeps earthworms and other vital soil fauna from circulating freely.

  1. WORKABILITY

You may have already learned about your soil’s work-ability the last time you got the garden ready for planting. If tilling or digging the soil produces cloddy or plate-like clumps, the work-ability is low. Farmers measure work-ability by monitoring how much tractor fuel they use; you can simply judge the effort necessary to prepare beds for planting.

Why It’s Important
Soil that’s easy to work allows water to reach roots efficiently and is less prone to compaction. Fail this step, and your garden will likely show disappointing results for many of the other tests. “If the soil isn’t easily worked, other problems have already been going on for a while.

  1. SOIL ORGANISMS

Measure the animal life in your soil by digging down at least 6 inches and peering intently into the hole for 4 minutes. Tick off the number and species of each organism observed, such as centipedes, ground beetles, and spiders. Because most soil organisms spurn daylight, gently probe the soil to unearth the more shy residents. If you count less than 10, your soil does not have enough active players in the food chain.

Why It’s Important
A thriving population of diverse fungi, bacteria, insects, and invertebrates is one of the most visible signs of soil quality. The more that creeps and crawls under your garden, the less opportunity there is for pests and disease. Each level of soil life does its part to break down plant residue and make more nutrients available for plant growth.

  1. EARTHWORMS

When the soil is not too dry or wet, examine the soil surface for earthworm casts and/or burrows. Then dig out 6 inches of soil and count the number of earthworms squirming on the shovel. Three worms are good; five are better. The absence of worms means the soil does not have enough of the organic matter they feed on. An exception: If you live in the Southwest, don’t waste your time looking, even if the soil displays other conditions of soil quality. Earthworm activity is less likely in the desert because worms don’t like hot soil.

Why It’s Important
Not only do earthworms aerate the soil, but their casts infuse the soil with enzymes, bacteria, organic matter, and plant nutrients. They also increase water infiltration and secrete compounds that bind soil particles together for better tilth.

  1. PLANT RESIDUE

If you’ve grown a cover crop, dig down 6 inches 1 month after turning it into the soil and then look for plant matter. The range of organic material is important to notice here. The presence of recognizable plant parts as well as plant fibers and darkly colored humus indicates an ideal rate of decomposition.

Why It’s Important
The single most important component of healthy soil is organic matter. But plants and other organic materials decompose only when soil organisms are there to do the work. Any sign of this process is a good sign, but the speed of decomposition is important, too. Fast decomposition is another indicator of soil quality. In poorly aerated soil, plants break down slowly, a condition that gives off a faintly sour scent.

  1. PLANT VIGOR

Start this test during the active growing season and look for healthy plant color and size that’s relatively uniform. Overall health and development must be judged for what’s considered normal for your region. The caveat to this to the test is that  if you planted late or during a drought, or suffered a pest infestation, results of this test may be unreliable.

Why It’s Important
Plant vigor indicates soil with good structure and tilth, a well-regulated water supply, and a diverse population of organisms. It’s the best sign of effective soil management you’ll have above ground.

  1. ROOT DEVELOPMENT

Use a shovel or hand trowel to dig gently around a selected plant, preferably a weed you won’t miss. Once you’ve reached root depth, pull an annual plant up and check the extent of root development, searching for fine strands with a white healthy appearance. Brown, mushy roots indicate serious drainage problems—and a poor outlook for this year’s harvest. Stunted roots might also indicate disease or the presence of root-gnawing pests. When you look at the roots, you can really see what’s going on.

Why It’s Important
Roots have the most immediate connection with and reliance on soil quality. Without air, water, biological activity, and crumbly soil to grow in, roots can’t do their job.

  1. WATER INFILTRATION

Take an empty coffee can with the bottom removed and push it into the soil until just 3 inches remain above the surface. Fill the can with water, marking the water height, and then time how long it takes for the water to be absorbed into the soil. Repeat this several times until the rate of absorption slows and your times become consistent. Anything slower than 1/2 to 1 inch per hour is an indication of compacted soil.

Why It’s Important
Good infiltration gets water to plants where they need it at their roots prevents runoff and erosion, and lets air move more efficiently into soil pores.

  1. WATER AVAILABILITY

Wait for a soaking rain; then record how long until plants start to show signs of thirst. Results will vary widely by region. The basic lesson is that if plants require more frequent watering than typical for your region, your soil is probably the culprit.

Why It’s Important
Porous soil can better resist evaporation and adequately supply plants between waterings. It could make all the difference in the world if water were to go another inch deeper.

Still not convinced take this ride with me.  Do you know that you can carry out a ph test on your  soil sample without a phmeter and no it does not give a reading,  it just helps you to make a decision about your soil.

Go to the grocery’s store and get a baking soda and a bottle of vinegar, then get soil sample from your farm from different random location and mixed them all up together before diving into smaller quantity while you get ready to carry out the test.

Collect 1 cup of soil from different parts of your garden and put 2 spoonfuls into separate containers. Add 1/2 cup ofdownload vinegar to the soil. If it fizzes, you have alkaline soil,

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Baking soda for acidity

with a pH between 7 and 8.If it doesn’t fizz after doing the vinegar test.

Then add distilled water to the other container until 2 teaspoons of soil are muddy. Add 1/2 cup baking soda. If it fizzes you have acidic soil, most likely with a pH between 5 and 6.

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If your soil doesn’t react at all it is neutral with a pH of 7 and you are

Great stuff! A young Agropreneur’s innovation in soil analysis

Source: Google images, Hands Holding a Seedling and Soil ca. 2000

Source: Google images, Hands Holding a Seedling and Soil ca. 2000

We are inspired to repost an innovation by a young agriculturists doing great stuff. We will be featuring something on his soil Analysis and testing. Majority of Farmers in Nigeria still use indigenous methods to determine when to plant crops, type of soil best for planting. With technologies in place for soil analysis and testing detailed information on soil quality, nutrients are made known to farmers for proper decision in managing the farm/garden.

John bosco’s soil analysis and testing interests us in agricultural value chain in Nigeria. We consider this interesting enough to feature on the blog. I would however additionally define soil test and highlight reasons why we do soil analysis to give you a little understanding about soil analysis and testing. Enjoy!
What is soil test?
A soil test is a process by which elements (phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, sulfur, manganese, copper and zinc) are chemically removed from the soil and measured for their “plant available” content within the sample. The quantity of available nutrients in the sample determines the amount of fertilizer that is recommended. A soil test also measures soil pH, humic matter and exchangeable acidity. These analyses indicate whether lime is needed and, if so, how much to apply. (Source http://www.ncagr.gov/cyber/kidswrld/plant/soiltest.htm)
Why Do You Need A Soil Test?
Most soil nutrients are readily found in the soil provided that its pH level is within the 6 to 6.5 range. However, when the pH level rises, many nutrients (like phosphorus, iron, etc.) may become less available. When it drops, they may even reach toxic levels, which can adversely affect the plants. Getting a soil test can help take the guesswork out of fixing any of these nutrient issues. There’s no need to spend money on fertilizers that aren’t necessary. There’s no worry of over fertilizing plants either. With a soil test, you’ll have the means for creating a healthy soil environment that will lead to maximum plant growth.
Read more on “Testing Garden Soil – Why Test Soil in a Garden” here
AgroBosco – Agribusiness and consulting offering and solution
Soil analysis? – Analyse your soil now!
* Don’t just add bags/sachets/bottles of fertilizers to your soil because your friend added same quantity of fertilizer to his/her soil or a literature tells you to do so. It is RISKY!
* Don’t add the same formular/composition of fertilizer on your soil because your friend applied same formular/composition on his/her soil or literature tells you so. It is RISKY!
* Even though a study had been previously done on your soil for nutrient analysis, remember it is your turn to plant on same soil and NUTRIENT DEPLETS.
* You can actually determine the nutrient available in your soil, either the nutrient/element needed in large quantity or less quantity which gives you a CLEAR picture of the amount/quantity of fertilizer needed on your soil and ultimately reduces your cost of fertilizer input.
* You can also determine if the soil is suitable for the production of your crop
* Soil Analysis gives you the answer. DON’T RISK YOUR PROJECT…Analyze your soil today!
Soil Routine Analysis:
* pH
* Particle Size Distribution (Sand Silt, Clay)
* Exchangeable Cations (Ca, Mg, Na, K)
* Exchangeable Acidity (Al+ , H+)
* Effective Cation Exchange Capacity
* Base Saturation
* Total Nitrogen
* Total Organic Carbon
* Available Phosphorus
* Micro-Nutrients (Cu, Zn, Fe, Mn)
Forms of Nitrogen
* Ammonium Nitrogen
* Nitrate Nitrogen
* Nitrite Nitrogen
Total Analysis
* Sample Dissolution (Digestion)
* Phosphate
* Sulphate
Metal Analysis
* Sample Dissolution (Digestion)
* Cu, Zn, Fe, Mn, Pb, Cd, Cr, Ni, Co, K, Na, etc
Contact:
Email: boscowjay@yahoo.com
Mobile / Whatsapp: +234 8038626933
Also like our page: http://www.facebook.com/agrobosco
BBM Channel Pin: C00305738

Learning Route: Innovative ideas and approaches to integrate Rural Youth in Agriculture. The progress in Kenya

The PROCASUR Corporation in Africa in collaboration with the International Fund of Agricultural Development (IFAD) has partnered with the Junior Farmer Field Schools (FAO), Strengthening Rural Youth Development through Enterprise (TechnoServe), Mkulima Young and USTADI to develop a Learning Route (LR) on “Innovative Ideas and Approaches to Integrate Rural Youth in Agriculture”. This Learning Route will be taking place in Kenya, between the 16th and the 24th of August 2015.

Through a face-to-face learning, the 8-day Learning Route includes the opportunity of learning directly in the field and from its protagonist some of the best practices some of the best initiatives implemented in favour of youth transforming policies into actions and progress.

The Main objective of this Learning Route is to contribute to lesson-sharing and learning at country and regional level in order to build technical capacities within IFAD’s operations and partners and other development practitioners within the African region on innovative strategies and approaches to engage rural youth in agriculture, increase employment and reduce poverty.

During this unique journey through knowledge, participants will be supported by PROCASUR and experts, in the design of an “Innovation Plan” aimed at integrating and adopting the best practices in their respective settings and enhancing their organizations and projects performance in delivering specific youth services and actually include activities benefitting young people.

A Contest after the Learning Route will prize the best two Innovation Plans with a starting capital of USD 2500.

To apply please follow this link to get the necessary forms

Conquering the challenge of starting up as young agropreneurs

startupIn previous times, young agricultural graduates usually get Federal Government jobs in the Ministry of Agriculture as Extension Agents who support local farmers in the country, now only a small fraction of graduates do have these “so-called” Federal Government jobs, this leaves majority of them to fend for themselves. This is usually frustrating, difficult and discouraging. What differentiates us from the bandwagon of young individuals who want to invest in agriculture is our passion, drive and our belief in the prospects of agriculture in Nigeria despite all odds.

As young agripreneurs when life throws lemons at us, we can duck them and keep asking where they came from or we could make lemonade out of them. In recent times more young agripreneurs are having interests in agriculture with most of them not knowing how to.

In the mist of their passion and drive, youth have a couple of challenges. In this post i will share some of them with a few tips to help.

  1. Inadequate technical know-how: young agripreneurs who intend running his/her agribusiness in the future need to develop their own technical knowledge of the intricacies of such agribusiness. They need to get familiar with operational activities of such agribusiness by either volunteering for a short period in farms, farm centres, or related agribusinesses while understanding and gathering operation information relating to market information, production facilities, and financial analysis among others.
  2. Funding: Since investing in agribusiness involves risk taking, you should have some money put aside in case things do not work out as planned. One mistake young agripreneurs make is not setting aside enough cash reserve to support oneself, most entrepreneurs run out of money to support the business and/or themselves before the business is profitable enough to sustain itself and however fail within the first few years.

Tip: Proactively set up a special fund intended to support yourself during the business startup phase for the first year and second to relieve pressure.

  1. The role of passion and consistency: Passion and resilience will grow your agribusiness and give you energy to go on whenever the question comes on to why you are doing agriculture.
  2. Not sure of what to plant or area of agribusiness to specialize in: One should understand the value chain of his crop/agribusiness then start analyzing which area to focus on. One cannot excel in agribusiness if you are a jack of all trades.

Tip: Pick one area and focus on it.

  1. Marketing: Market is the end in business. The primary goal of getting into agribusiness is to make profit. Before you get into any form of agribusiness, find out if there is a market for your product and seek a thorough understanding of that market. This saves you the hassle of having a product and no market for it in the long run.
  2. Lack of technical support and mentorship: Get information about area of interest and interact with as many people as possible in your value chain area so as to understand the technical intricacies involved about the crop, livestock or service you want offered. Essentially if need be volunteer for at least 3 months to get familiar with best practices that will yield best results understand the business arm, farming operations, processes and strategically add value to what exists. know enough to find mentors who would push you to the right path because mentors make success possible.
  3. Not willing to start small from ideas one currently have: One key lesson you should learn as a young agripreneur is you will need a lot of patience to see results as a young agripreneur. Start small and scale up gradually this way you would learn from experience and can adapt to painful lessons of the dos and don’ts of agribusiness without running at big losses. The aphorism that goes, experience is the best teacher, holds true in agriculture.
  4. Lack of innovation (one way traffic): Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results. Young agripreneur should keep an open mind to problems and see opportunities in every challenge they face when running their agribusiness.

NB: if after 3 years you realize that you haven’t made any profit in your agribusiness venture then it’s time to pitch your tent somewhere else.

  1. Lack of business plan: Have a clear business plan and assess the risks of your business. Consider all the requirements necessary to start off your business. Do you have land? If you don’t, how do you intend to acquire one? How much will it cost? How far is the land from your nearest selling point? What will be your means of transport and how much does it cost?
  2. Network Amputation: Recent fast developing trend in Nigerian involves use of social media by young agripreneurs who have various form of agribusiness ventures and use it to link up with potential customers, investors. A recent Pew study found that 73 percent of surveyed people 18 years of age and older use social media. Agripreneurs now get to know people and make friends in the agribusiness sector both online and offline; this way agripreneurs will have people to share their experience with and learn from too. To effectively reach those customers, one must integrate social media with old school marketing such as print ads, radio, billboards and direct mail. The average consumer spends just over five hours daily on digital media according to a recent study.

Tip: There are farmer groups one could join on social media platforms some of them includes; (Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) Nigeria), Agropreneur Naija, Youths Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture (YISA) Nigeria, Some of these groups also have accounts on twitter, google plus and linkedin, this medium gives opportunity to cultivate healthy regular relationships with your farmers and customers. Also endeavor to contribute to agricultural discussions online.

The Zeer Pot- Preserving Our Food

If you live in Nigeria like me and you are reading this, chances are that you have problems with electricity in your town or city. We have a good-sized refrigerator, but we cannot power them with charcoal?
Change Your Food Storage Mind-set
Do you know more food than you might think can go for some time without refrigeration and remain safe to eat?
Do you know the optimal temperature to store fruits and veggies is between 10  and 13 degree Celsius with low humidity?
Do you know the Zeer Pot is a new invention, created in 1995 by a Nigerian pot-maker by the name of Mohammed Bah Abba who wanted to help Sudanese families to preserve their food?
Do know his invention won him the Rolex Award in 2000 and the World Shell Award for Sustainable Development in 2001?
The ZEER POT
The zeer pot also called the pot-in-pot refrigerator as the name implies is a small earthenware pot placed inside a larger one, and the space between the two filled with moist sand.
The inner pot is filled with fruit, vegetables or soft drinks and covered with a wet cloth.
Abba, who hails from a family of potmakers, tapped into the large unemployed local workforce and hired skilled pot makers to mass-produce the first batch of 5,000 Pot-in-Pots.
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6 STEPS TO OWNING A ZEER POT FRIDGE
 

1 First, bowl-shaped moulds are created from mud and water – and left to dry in the sun. Clay is then pressed onto the moulds to form the desired size of pot. Clay rims and bases are added and the moulds are removed. The pots are left to dry in the sun.

2 Once the pots have been fired in a pit of sticks, the zeer pot is ready to assemble. A smaller pot is placed inside a larger one, and the space in between filled with sand.

3 The whole structure is then placed on a large iron stand. This allows the air to flow underneath and aid the cooling process.

4 Twice a day, water is added to the sand between the pots so that it remains moist. The entire assembly is left in a dry, ventilated place.

5 Fruit, vegetables and sorghum – a type of cereal prone to fungal infestation if not preserved – are then placed in the smaller pot, which is covered with a damp cloth.

6 In the heat, the water contained in the sand evaporates towards the outer surface of the larger pot. This evaporation brings about a drop in temperature of several degrees, cooling the inner pot and extending the shelf life of the perishable food inside.
 
Impact of the zeer fridge pot cannot be over emphasised as it has a significant result on the shelf life of the various crop and vegetable.
In the hot weather of Sudan, Hawa Abbas used to lose half of her tomato, okra and carrot crop. She shared her thought    “They keep our vegetables fresh for 3-4 weeks, depending on the type of crop. They are very good in a hot climate such as ours where fruit and vegetables get spoiled in one day.”
Mohammed Bah Abba speaks on his invention and its impact. Watch this video
This blog post was contributed by Akinsanya Tomiwa, a vibrant youth in agriculture. He currently works as part of the IITA Youth Agripreneur.
You can read other articles from him via his blog http://omotomiwa.blogspot.com/ 

 

‘Innovation Platform can help increase farmers’ incomes’

4316157064_664c462083Wale Adekunle, a professor of agronomy, and currently, director of partnerships and strategic alliances, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), speaks with OLUYINKA ALAWODE on how the concept of Innovation Platform can help farmers, scientists and other stakeholders achieve greater impact in productivity. Excerpts:

Innovation Platform

This is a concept that we coined during the period I was working at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). This was when I was in pursuit of ways to help farmers achieve greater productivity in their farms. We started from working as sole scientists who deliver the products of their research to extension workers in a linear and sequential version, to working with farmers and extension officers through the farming systems approach. This approach helped us in getting the input of farmers into research works.

Later, when it was clear that we needed more partnerships, I started to work on multi-stakeholder approaches and this led us to the development of Innovation Platform as a framework that brings together all possible partners who have roles to play in the development of technologies and their use for the derivation of socio-economic benefits.

An Innovation Platform is basically a physical forum but could be strengthened virtually, that is, all the stakeholders connect with one another through ICT. Usually, it brings players from along the value chain and beyond to include farmers, researchers, extension agents, input dealers (seeds, fertilisers, agrochemicals, agric mechanisation and agric lending and insurance) transporters, standards organisations, policy makers and end marketers.

Innovation Platform engages researchers in an integrated version to cover seven thematic areas, which include productivity, natural resource management, markets, policy, product development, nutrition and gender that are the basic areas that can lead to agricultural transformation in a country like ours.

The platform could be either for operations or strategic purposes. Strategic platforms are always at higher levels while operational platforms are always at the grassroots, where the operations are taking place. But the operational platform is always a mirror of the strategic platform.

Partnerships on the Innovation Platform is based not only on the need to generate technologies but also to solve both institutional and infrastructure constraints that may hinder the adoption of the technology, when it is developed or presented to the users.

Types of innovation platforms

We have quite a number of platforms in existence today. Through the proof of concept research, which FARA led within the sub-Saharan African Challenge Programme, we established 36 innovation platforms across Nigeria, Niger, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. But today, we have a lot more through the work of other partners including the CGIAR, research institutes in different countries, private sector working in certain countries, and even NGOs both locally and internationally.

Innovation platforms are now used everywhere. Partners on the platforms come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities within a particular system or commodity chain, prioritise them and systematically address them for the benefit of all players who have been recruited to serve different essential function.

Users

Innovation platforms have been used by farmers’ organisations to promote impact in terms of yield and incomes. Researchers have used it to promote stakeholder contribution to research agenda and also to promote potential of adoption. Private sector in both the input and output markets have also used it to increase their profit margin.

Benefits

Through the innovation platforms, farmers have been able to get greater access to information related to the production, processing and marketing of their commodities, greater access to technologies, increased yield and greater access to both input and output markets all leading to increased yield and incomes for greater food security and poverty reduction. Inputs dealers and output marketers derive additional benefits in terms of profit. As for extension agents and researchers, they derive satisfaction that their technologies are being adopted. Policy makers are happy they are reaching farmers.

Food security

Innovation platforms can help increase food production and farmers incomes. They also help in job creation as they promote the performance of agribusiness players.

Other sectors

They can be applied in other sectors, indeed the concept is an innovation systems approach which was borrowed from the industrial sector. Factories hardly produce commodities without stakeholder involvement.

Agricultural transformation

Based on the challenges we were given by the Science Council of the CGIAR, we have been able to prove that this approach works better than conventional approaches in increasing yields, increasing incomes, reducing poverty and improving economic development. It is an approach that can be used for agricultural transformation.

Background

I bagged a bachelor of agric from the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) and I did PhD in agronomy at the University of Ibadan. I worked for about 20 years at IITA and I have been working at FARA for about six years.

Original article can be found here