technology

Technology as a key to agricultural growth and success in Nigeria

“As we search for a less extractive and polluting economic order, so that we may fit agriculture into the economy of a sustainable culture, community becomes the locus and metaphor for both agriculture and culture.”  ― Wes Jackson, Becoming Native to This Place

africanfarming5-www-peacetimes-news

By Olasupo OJO

The prevailing economic situation in Nigeria has prompted the need for a diversification to ameliorate the economic challenges hitting the country in the face. Oil prices have dropped drastically, the Naira was depreciating at an alarming rate until recently, and the prices of commodities have risen.

Agriculture has become the talk on everyone’s mouth, a means to liberate and sustain the economy. Needless to say, that many have forgotten that the 60’s – early 80’s are far from different from the 21st century that we find ourselves. The era when the population was barely 45 million, employment rate was high, the economy was stable and agriculture was a joyous occupation. But the “oil boom” came along and agriculture was long gone. Paying less attention to agriculture resulted in a decline in policy support and public funding for agriculture, strong decline in domestic production and rising level of dependence on agricultural imports. Now, population has grown to over 180 million, oil is losing its value and the naira’s value is dwindling. Isn’t it time to go back to the 60’s? A resounding ‘yes’.

The truth is that agriculture can take us back to where we were. Little wonder then that the government is doing everything within its reach to resuscitate this sector of the economy. The role of the public and private sectors in agriculture, the farmers, youths and women, donor organizations, research institutes, health care organizations and other organizations or agencies that play a role in the agriculture value chain can’t be overemphasized. But, it is noteworthy that just like science and technology have played their roles in our lives in this century, they are also a backbone to achieving the long-term goal of sustaining the agricultural sector of the economy.

TECHNOLOGY

Technology is shaping the world, improving lives, making things easy and transforming the continent. In the world of agriculture too, a lot is being done to improve seeds and increase production. This will also help in restoring increased production of food in Nigeria.

Here are some technological inventions that will definitely improve the agricultural sector of the economy:

Mechanization

The 60’s are far gone, the era of farmers using crude farm implements like hoe, sickles and cutlasses. Painfully, many farmers still use these tools in their farming operations, the effect? Low supply of farm products, poor efficiency and sustenance of products. Mechanized form of farming involves the use advanced technological machines, tools and techniques in rearing plants animals, this will:

  • reduce energy exerted in the agricultural process
  • improve productivity
  • improve life span
  • regular supply of farm produce
  • enhance economic growth

Nigeria faces a Hello tractorslot of challenges in this area. For example, the land use decree (1978) makes acquisition of land difficult in a way making it difficult for peasant farmers to acquire sufficient land mass to practice mechanized farming. Unavailability of infrastructural facilities like good road network, communication facilities and transport system. Illiteracy among farmers and sufficient funding.

The use of tractors, boom sprayers, ploughing machines and pumps are mechanized tools that will help reshape the agriculture sector and help farmers. A revision of the land use decree of 1978 will help farmers acquire more acres of land to practice this form of farming.

AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY

Simply put, agricultural biotechnology is the manipulation of crops and animals or their parts for the production of value added goods and services for man’s use.  It is being used to address problems in all areas of agricultural production and processing. This includes plant breeding to raise and stabilize yields; to improve resistance to pests, diseases and abiotic stresses such as drought and cold; and to enhance the nutritional content of foods. Despite reservations about GMO plants, security and regulatory agencies have stood up to defend advantages of this plants. South Africa for example has recorded remarkable increase, remaining till present the leaders in Africa in the use of biotech crops. In an interview with UK MP Owen Paterson by SASHNEE MOODLEY, South Africa as realised an economic gain of $1.15-billion between 1998 and 2012 from the use of genetically modified (GM) crops or biotech crops. Sudan has also increased its biotech cotton hectares by almost 50% to 90 000 ha. He said, “although humanitarian and environmental groups have disputed the use of GM technology on crops, studies have shown that GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22% and boosted farmers profit by 68%.” Nigeria can definitely increase its crop production through the use of biotech plants, having them available, educating rural farmers on how to successfully maximize profit and strengthen the food growth of the country like other African countries like South Africa and Sudan. Read more on Biotech here from a Nigerian health practitioner.

Information and Communications Technology

The Internet is a standing topic in newspapers and on television, and the number of users doubles every year. IT can be used a tool for direct contribution to agricultural productivity and an indirect tool for empowering farmers to take informed and quality decisions which will have positive impact on the way agriculture and allied activities are conducted. The main objective of ICT application, from a development perspective, is that of empowering people through knowledge.  It increases the effectiveness of their development efforts through informed decision making and through their capacity to harness science and various forms of knowledge to achieve the objectives of poverty eradication,
food security and sustainable development. This would be an effective tool for the very large uneducated populace farmers in the country and also help foster a better understanding of farming practice and marketing among the youths who are eagerly delving into farming today.

esoko-com

Photo Credit- Esoko.com

The 60’s are here in the 21st century, Agriculture should be fully worked on and modified in order to meet the needs and number of populace in the country. Application of technology in agriculture accompanied with the best policies can liberate Nigeria from the shackles of poverty, high cost of living and unemployment ravaging the country currently.

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

When Nigeria begins to do what it says it will do in the Agricultural Sector

Photo credit : pintrest.com

Photo credit : pinterest.com

The business of agriculture which is simply agribusiness cannot cease to exist since agriculture is a necessity for survival. A country that does not invest in its agribusiness is definitely investing in another country’s agribusiness. A quote of Ralph Ransom says “Agriculture and the business created by it not only give riches to a nation but gives the only riches the nation can own”. It is a known fact that the agricultural potential of Nigeria cannot be overemphasized, thus Nigeria should be fed with what Nigeria produces. This is the way forward if indeed we want sustainable growth and development as a country.

In this effect, agribusiness would be less of just a discussion and more of proper implementation of ideas that will enhance agricultural growth and development in the country. Just imagine an  agribusiness value chain from an input supplier that supplies seeds, fertilizers, equipment, machineries, feed concentrate, containers and sack; to a farmer that produces crops, livestock  and other produce used to sustain life; to a  manufacturer that processes the agricultural produce into fruit juice, cocoa drinks, milk, coffee and tea, chocolates, sweets, cornflakes, bread, jam, butter, cakes, tomato puree, foot wears, clothes,  tissue paper, soap and  furniture; to food stores, supermarket, shopping malls and  wholesalers  who stand as  marketers and  distributors.

If Nigeria’s true focus is now on the agricultural sector as stated, it will not only be food secured and meet the needs of its over 178.5 million teeming population, it will create employment for its over 78.4 million labour force population i.e. those that are within the working age population, willing, able and actively looking for job. It will provide incentives and educate over 80 million of its dedicated farmers about modern agricultural techniques and methods. It will decongest its urban areas by making the livelihood of its over 5.9 million rural unemployed youths, attractive. It will provide solutions to mitigate environmental challenges, and put an end to food wastage by ensuring the provision food processing and storage facilities. It will adopt its research policies, and be more practical about science and technology. It will grow its industries and be disciplined about the implementation of designed agricultural plans.

Indeed the way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. Nigeria will change the economy of many countries if it begins to do what it says it will do.

This blog post was written by Idowu T. Owoeye.

email: idowuowoeye6@gmail.com

Growing In Confidence: Understanding Latest Farming Technologies, Creating Opportunities

Planting of rice using the DPS machine

Planting of rice using the DPS machine

Tolu while growing up loved Agriculture but wasn’t interested in taking up a profession in the sector, she was latter convinced by a close friend to study Medicine to become a medical doctor. After writing JAMB twice to study Medicine (but not offered admission), Tolu decided to take up soil science and land resources management offered to her at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-ife, Osun state hoping to eventually change course to Faculty of health. She however, fell in love with the course and made up her mind to continue.

Today she leverages on her work at the International Fertilizer and Development Centre (IFDC) to facilitate farmers on using latest modern farming technology (UDP) aimed at increasing N fertilizer use efficiency in rice production among other crops, her interaction with farmers has enabled her to understand basic challenges farmers face and help proffer solutions and advice.

Tolu shares her excitement about future possibilities for Agriculture in Nigeria, if competent individuals with proven track record for getting things done are brought in and put in charge of farming centres established in each state of the Federation. She also advised continuation but review of the process and approach used for the Growth Enhancement Support scheme (GES) of the last administration for optimal result.

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

Ans: I am Tolulope Ayeyemi, I hail from Itaogbolu in Akure North LGA, Ondo state. I attended Christ the King Nursery and Primary school Akure and proceeded to Saint Louis Grammar School, Akure for my secondary school education after which I got admission to Study Soil science and Land resources Management at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun state, Nigeria.

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?

Ans: Let me start this way, I had always loved agriculture, probably because my dad is a passionate agricultural science teacher and was my agric teacher at some point in secondary school, in fact I was a member of young farmers club in my secondary school however I wasn’t interested in taking up a profession in the agricultural sector. I had always wanted to be in the health sector, at first, I desired to be a Nurse but a very close friend convinced me to go in to Study Medicine and become a medical doctor, however things turned around when I was offered Agricultural economics and Extension at University of Ibadan at my first JAMB attempt. I didn’t take up the offer because I wasn’t interested in Agriculture as a profession. I took the next Jamb, this time, I was offered Soil Science and Land resources management at Obafemi Awolowo University, I didn’t have so many choices anymore and I had to take it with the hope that I will cross over to Faculty of Health sciences the next session or better still put in for another Jamb. I did put in for the Next Jamb, however I already made up my mind to continue with studying Soil science. During the university days as well, I was opportune to travel to Songhai farms for a training on integrated and sustainable agriculture, this further ignited my passion for agriculture and today am so happy to be a Soil scientist/Agronomist.

Q3. What aspect or nature of work in Agriculture do you practise in your work? Tell us about your interactions and experiences with farmers in your work?

Ans: Right from my university days, I have been involved in capacity building of smallholder farmers in different aspects. As an Harambe Nigeria fellow, myself and eight other young agri fellas worked with farmers in a particular commodity in Osun state and trained them on safe handling of pesticides, processing of their cassava into garri and storage/preservation of their vegetable products and fruits. It was quite an interesting experience. And for some years now, I have been involved in training farmers on improved/modern farming technologies through the establishment of demonstration plots which is thereafter used as a practical platform to train farmers. I have also been involved in training of youth spray service providers (YSSP) on safe and responsible handling of agrochemicals which includes both classroom facilitation as well as field demonstration. Moreso, I am also involved in the training of Agro input dealers for effective service delivery of agro inputs to farmers. Generally speaking, my activity centers around capacity building of major stakeholders in the farming community- smallholder farmers, agro dealers, spray service providers also called spray gangs.

Training of agro input dealers

 

 

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

Ans: My activities have been solving problems that relate to environmental pollution from incessant application of agrochemicals, as well as helping farmers increase their yield through the use of improved technologies they have received training on. The challenges being faced is that farmers are somehow difficult to convince about the use of a new/improved technology and this is why the concept of demonstration plot is used when training farmers.

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

Ans: In recent times, there seems to be an improvement in that regard probably because of the issues surrounding the oil and gas sector at the present moment. In addition, there are a number of similar activities just like Agropreneur Naija who are also involved in sensitizing youth in agriculture. By and large, I think youth participation in agriculture is on the increase. I have a number of young friends who are also involved in agriculture in one way or the other- production, processing, capacity building, marketing and lots more, however, it will be very interesting to see more youth venture into agriculture, the older generation are gradually fading off and the baton has to be taken by the young people.

Q6. What do you think are challenges of youth participation in agriculture, how has this affected Agricultural productivity in Nigeria?

Ans: One critical challenge about youth participation in agriculture is the drudgery. Ask youth about agriculture and the excuse they give is that it could be stressful, truth be told, yes, infact sometimes at the peak of the season, I get stressed up as well but tell me, which job doesn’t have its own kind of stress? Secondly, funding is also a major challenge, there’s no business that can run without some capital. Furthermore, the generation of youth we have these days are somewhat impatient, no matter the crops/animal you raise, it will take some time to get to maturity for sale and get some profit, and however youth are not interested in that kind of waiting, and they just want quick money.

Checking maize seedlings for pest attack

Checking maize seedlings for pest attack

 

Q7. Where do you see yourself in the next 5- 10 years from now?

Ans: In the next 5-10 years, I desire to own my personal commercial farm that will have both plant and animal section. I will also continue building the capacity of farmers most especially women farmers and I desire to be a mentor to female Agropreneurs.

Q8. What advice do you have for young people engaged in agriculture?

Ans: Agriculture is a very broad sector, my advice is they should be focused and get the best out of the aspect they are focused on, ask questions and get more knowledge.

Q9. What do you think government should put in place to improve the agric sector in Nigeria?

Ans: I am of the opinion that through a sort of public private partnership, the government of each state should establish modern farming centres with the kind of capacity and infrastructures that the popular Obasanjo farms has and employ people both skilled and unskilled labour to work there. I am assured that if this is done, aside providing employment for a good number of people, food production and distribution will also be increased. Aside this, government should put forward policies that will favour the small holder farmers and help him be able to sell his farm produce at the best market price. In the northern part of the country, more irrigation schemes should be constructed to enable farmer’s crop during the dry season. Furthermore, the growth enhancement support scheme (GES) of the last administration in which agro inputs were distributed to farmers at subsidized should continue and be made sustainable, however the process and approach should be reviewed in order to achieve optimal result.

Every waste counts- Rice Straws

Kindly recall my last post titled Sustainable Agriculture ; Small Steps To Bigger Tomorrow. I was able to explained what sustainable agriculture is, what to do to achieve it and how it benefits us all.

In this post I will be sharing my personal experience using sustainable farming techniques to achieve sustainable agriculture. the month of June was a time of planting for rice farmers in Birgi Village, Minna, Niger state in Nigeria while harvesting started in the month of October.  After drying the rice plant was threshed and the grains were removed leaving only the rice straw. the rice farm of about 20 hectares with so much waste a type of agricultural waste that poses a huge environmental and health burden on rice farmers who burn it as a means of disposal if not probably managed. as an agriculturist i was saddled with the responsibility to profer an economical solution  that would channel this waste turned resources for better usage.

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In the quest for knowledge, I started making enquires on what rice straw can be used for and its benefit. The straw mass corresponding to 1 ton of sun dried paddy rice is 1.5 tons which contains about 9 kilos of nitrogen, 2 kilos each of phosphorus and sulfur, 25 kilos of potassium, 70 kilos of silicon, 6 kilos of calcium and 2 kilos of magnesium based on a study by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) of 1984.

Rice straw is thus a good source of macro-nutrients. Burning rice straw, a usual practice in most farms  destroys most of the nitrogen, sulfur, some of the potassium and makes silicon less available.To return the nutrients of rice straw to the soil, cut rice stalks higher during harvest time. More stubble are then incorporated into the soil during land preparation. Threshed straw can be fed to animals or can be used for feeding livestock during fodder shortage. Some of the rice straw nutrients are subsequently returned to the soil as animal excreta.

The rice straw were moved to a ventilated room for  temporary storage for size reduction by a forage chopper. Some of the chopped straws were treated with biofertilizer ( molasses) and wrapped in plastic so that it is not exposed to air or water( under anearobic condition), and then stored away from the sun for one month before been used as livestock feed. The leftover after chopping were used in making compost. we should always keep one thing in mind that every agriculture waste counts.

Sustainable Agriculture:Small Steps to a Bigger Tomorrow

Sustainable farming or in a broader term, Sustainable agriculture is using farming practices considering the ecological cycles. It is also sensitive towards the microorganisms and their equations with the environment at large.

 In simpler terms, sustainable farming is farming ecologically by promoting methods and practices that are economically viable, environmentally sound and protect public health.

It does not only concentrate on the economic aspect of farming, but also on the use of non-renewable factors in the process thoughtfully and effectively. This contributes to the growth of nutritious and healthy food as well as bring up the standard of living of the farmer.

Our environment, and subsequently our ecology have become an area of concern for us over the last few decades. This has increasingly led us to contemplate, innovate and employ alternate methods or smaller initiatives to save our ecology. One such initiative is sustainable farming. It simply means production of food, plants and animal products using farming techniques that prove to be beneficial for public health and promote economic profitability. It draws and learns from organic farming

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Sustainable farming or Sustainable agriculture helps the farmers innovate and employ recycling methods, this apart from the conventional perks of farming. A very good example of recycling in sustainable farming would be the crop waste or animal manure. The same can be transformed into fertilizers that can help enrich the soil. Another method that can be employed is crop rotation. This helps the soil maintain its nutrients and keeps the soil rich and potent. Collection of rainwater via channeling and then its utilization for irrigation is also a good example of sustainable farming practices.

Sustainable Farming Methods or Practices

Let us see various methods or practices of Sustainable farming in detail:

  1. Make use of Renewable Energy Sources:The first and the most important practice is the use of alternate sources of energy. Use of solar, hydro-power or wind-farms is ecology friendly. Farmers can use solar panels to store solar energy and use it for electrical fencing and running of pumps and heaters. Running river water can be source of hydroelectric power and can be used to run various machines on farms. Similarly, farmers can use geothermal heat pumps to dig beneath the earth and can take advantage of earth’s heat.
  2. Integrated pest management:Integrated pest management a combination pest control techniques for identifying and observing pests in the initial stages. One needs to also realize that not all pests are harmful and therefore it makes more sense to let them co-exist with the crop than spend money eliminating them. Targeted spraying works best when one need to remove specific pests only. This not only help you to spray pest on the selected areas but will also protect wildlife from getting affected.
  3. Crop Rotation:Crop rotation is a tried and tested method used since ancient farming practices proven to keep the soil healthy and nutritious. Crop rotation has a logical explanation to it – the crops are picked in a pattern so that the crops planted this season replenishes the nutrients and salts from the soil that were absorbed by the previous crop cycle. For example, row crops are planted after grains in order to balance the used nutrients.
  4. Avoid Soil Erosion:Healthy soil is key to a good crop. Age old techniques like tilling the land, plowing etc still work wonders. Manure, fertilizers, cover crops etc also help improve soil quality. Crop rotations prevent the occurrence of diseases in crops, as per studies conducted. Diseases such as crown rot and tan spot can be controlled. Also pests like septoria, phoma, etc can be eliminated by crop rotation techniques. Since diseases are crop specific, crop rotation can work wonders.
  5. Crop Diversity:Farmers can grow varieties of the same crop yielding small but substantial differences among the plants. This eases financial burdening. This process is called crop diversity and its practical use is on a down slide.
  6. Natural Pest Eliminators:Bats, birds, insects etc work as natural pest eliminators. Farmers build shelter to keep these eliminators close. Ladybugs, beetles, green lacewing larvae and fly parasites all feed on pests, including aphids, mites and pest flies. These pest eliminators are available in bulk from pest control stores or farming supply shops. Farmers can buy and release them on or around the crops and let them make the farm as their home.
  1. Managed Grazing:A periodic shift of the grazing lands for cattle should be maintained. Moving livestock offers them a variety of grazing pastures. This means they will receive various nutrients which is good for them. The excreta of these animals serves as a natural fertilizer for the land. Change of location also prevents soil erosion as the same patch of land is not trampled upon constantly. Also by grazing in time and mowing the weeds can be gotten rid off before they produce more seeds and multiply.
  2. Save Transportation Costs:Targeting the sales of the production in the local market saves  transportation and packaging hassles. It also eliminates the need of storage space. Therefore when stuff is grown and sold in local markets, it makes a community self sufficient, economically sound, saves energy and doesn’t harm the environment in any way.
  3. Better Water Management:The first step in water management is selection of the right crops. One must choose the local crops as they are more adaptable to the weather conditions of the region. Crops that do not command too much water must be chosen for dry areas. Irrigation systems need to be well planned otherwise they lead to other issues like river depletion, dry land and soil degradation. One can also build rainwater harvesting systems to store rainwater and use them in drought prevailing conditions. apart from that municipal waste water can be used for irrigation after recycling.
  4. Removal of Weeds Manually:Farmers having small farms can use their hands to remove weeds from crops where machines can’t reach or where crops are too fragile. This is quite a labor intensive task and is not suitable for large farms. Apart from this, a farmer also has the option to burn the old crops so that weeds do not produce seeds and destroy rest of the crops. However, that will causepollution in airand cal also affect the soil quality.

Sustainable energy is not only economical but it also helps in the conservation of our natural resources. Sustainable farming also helps reduce the need for chemicals fertilizers and pesticides. This makes the process more organic and clean.

Benefits of Sustainable Agriculture

  1. Contributes to Environmental Conservation:The environment plays a huge role in fulfilling our basic needs to sustain life. In turn, it is our duty to look after the environment so that future generations are not deprived of their needs. Sustainable agriculture helps to replenish the land as well as other natural resources such as water and air. This replenishment ensures that these natural resources will be able for future generations to sustain life.
  2. Public Health Safety:Sustainable agriculture avoids hazardous pesticides and fertilizers. As a result, farmers are able to produce fruits, vegetables and other crops that are safer for consumers, workers, and surrounding communities. Through careful and proper management of livestock waste, sustainable farmers are able to protect humans from exposure to pathogens, toxins, and otherhazardous pollutants.
  3. Prevents Pollution:Sustainable agriculture means that any waste a farm produces remains inside the farms ecosystem. In this way the waste cannot cause pollution.
  4. Reduction in Cost:The use of sustainable agriculture reduces the need for fossil fuels, resulting in significant cost savings in terms of purchasing as well as transporting them. This in turn lessens the overall costs involved in farming.
  5. Biodiversity:Sustainable farms produces a wide variety of plants and animals resulting inbiodiversity. During crop rotation, plants are seasonally rotated and this results in soil enrichment, prevention of diseases, and pest outbreaks.
  6. Beneficial to Animals:Sustainable agriculture results in animals being better cared for, as well as treated humanely and with respect. The natural behaviors of all living animals, including grazing or pecking, are catered for. As a result they develop in a natural way. Sustainable farmers and ranchers implement livestock husbandry practices that protect animals’ health.
  7. Economically Beneficial For Farmers:In exchange for engaging with sustainable farming methods, farmers receive a fair wage for their produce. This greatly reduces their reliance on government subsidies and strengthens rural communities. Organic farms typically require 2 ½ times less labor than factory farms yet yield 10 times the profit.
  8. Social Equality:Practicing sustainable agriculture techniques also benefits workers as they are offered a more competitive salary as well as benefits. They also work in humane and fair working conditions, which include a safe work environment, food, and adequate living conditions.
  9. Beneficial For Environment:Sustainable agriculture reduces the need for use of non-renewable energyresources and as a result benefits the environment.

Due to population increase, it is estimated that by 2050 we will need approximately 70% more food than is currently being produced in order to provide the estimated 9.6 billion world population with their recommended daily calorie intake. This is by no means a small challenge, but unlike many other sustainability challenges, everyone can play a part. We all need to eat, but by simply reducing food loss and waste, as well as eating diets that are lower impact, and investing in sustainable produce, we can make a difference. From countries, to companies, right down to consumers, we all have a role to play. The challenge is simply making people care in a world where we are surrounded by such abundance.

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 New Yuppies: How to Build a New Generation of Tech-Savvy Farmers

If the highest calibre of young people become farmers it will improve food security and help solve the unemployment crisis. Can tech make farming cool?

 Farmers in rural Kenya can use an app on their phones to check crop prices in Nairobi Photograph: Sven Torfinn/Panos

Farmers in rural Kenya can use an app on their phones to check crop prices in Nairobi Photograph: Sven Torfinn/Panos

As farmers age around the globe – I estimate that the average age is 55 – we need to make sure that young people see the food system as a viable career option. These farmers are the future of food. They can help to mitigate and potentially reverse climate change, curb unemployment and provide more nutrient-dense crops to the world.

Unfortunately, farming is usually seen as a last-resort profession. Rural youth migrate to cities in search of employment, and lack of infrastructure and education leads to poverty and malnutrition. But investing in young agricultural leaders has the power to transform the entire food system. Government leaders, businesses, and farmers groups need to make agriculture something youth want to do, not something they feel forced to do.

Climate change presents complex challenges for farmers of all ages, but youth are eager to use technology to access community-driven networks that harness knowledge to help. The Agroecological Intensification Exchange, for example, connects online users to innovations all over the world. Agroecological intensification aims at improving productivity and efficiency through better farm management, improved stability and diversity of yields and enhanced use of local resources. The site’s database, with case studies and research on topics from crop ecology to disease management, is a resource for practitioners and researchers in developing countries seeking to improve agricultural systems and adapt to the changing climate.

Networks with an explicit focus on youth are also crucial. The Global Forum on Agricultural Research and the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (Ypard) are focusing on cultivating the next generation of farmers, researchers, scientists, agronomists and policymakers. Ypard has grown into a network of more than 4,500 members in 117 countries and young professionals share innovations and learn from farmers and researchers in other parts of the world. Ypard involves youth in critical conversations about agricultural research and policy including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations and other important meetings where youth typically don’t have a voice.

Youth unemployment rates are on the rise in many developing countries – today, some 4.5 million youth around the globe are unemployed. But increasing the appeal of professions in agriculture can help solve this economic problem – creating social stability and food security. For farming to attract youth, it must become more profitable.

Luckily, the development of agriculture-focused cell phone applications is transforming the way people run their farms: sub-Saharan Africa has more 650 million cell phone subscribers, and the number is growing. Tigo Kilimo in Tanzania and Mobile Agribiz in the Democratic Republic of Congo provide small-scale farmers with crucial weather information and agricultural tips. And SokoniSMS64 in Kenya sends farmers texts with accurate market prices from around the country, helping them negotiate with traders and connect to markets. Access to this information can help farmers make the right decisions about what to plant and who to sell to – decisions that make a big difference about whether a harvest is profitable.

Achieving food security and combating malnutrition in the developing world also depends on improving the nutrient density of the crops. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad) emphasizes that while increasing productivity and profitability are important, improving nutrition requires more attention. This can be achieved, in part, through changes in practices – including better storage, preservation and processing.

And instead of growing starchy staples, young farmers are diversifying crop production to increase nutrition and incomes. Developing Innovations in School Cultivation, or Project Disc, in Uganda, is working with nursery school to high school students to develop a better appreciation – and taste – for indigenous foods. Edie Mukiibi, the project’s co-founder and now vice president of Slow Food International, says that “if a person doesn’t know how to grow food, they don’t know how to eat”. By working with schools to get students excited about indigenous plants, cooking, and preserving foods, Project Disc is instilling a positive perception of farming and lifelong knowledge about nutrition.

Empowering youth in developing countries to bring their energy to the agricultural sector is an ongoing effort. This effort must begin again with each new generation to help nourish both people and the planet. And it requires the support of policymakers, consumers, and innovators worldwide – the future of food depends on it.

Danielle Nierenberg is president of Food Tank. Follow @DaniNierenberg on Twitter.

Originally posted here

“Agriculture is a very viable enterprise and is interestingly challenging.”- Kolade Ige (YAP,March-2013)

Mr. Kolade Ige

 

This month, our young agro-preneur of the month goes to Kolade Ige the founder of FARM FEEDS and EQUIPMENT Nigeria. He is into General Poultry farming, aquaculture and livestock feed consultancy. AGROPRENEUR Nigeria team caught up with him and he shares his thoughts with us. Here is his story:

“Agriculture for me has been a great passion i have always longed to fulfill especially because it is a noble and humanitarian enterprise whose effect/advantages go beyond money making. it is the most honest money making charity business you can think of… think about the number of people you can take off the streets and give a life, the number of families rich or poor that you make alive everyday by putting food afford-ably on their table and the cool cash that rolls into your pocket daily. All these make agriculture a passionate calling for me rather than just business.

I started my adventure in agriculture when I was in my second year in the university with little or no experience, but my passion and determination led me to ferociously seek knowledge and experience all of which didn’t come at no cost. I will always make reference to my first stock of fish I loaded into an open soak away hoping I could fetch in water to satisfy the fish everyday it wasn’t as easy, so I lost them all in less than 2 weeks, this experience woke me up to the challenges and tasks to expect and to prepare through adequate information. I have strong interest in fish farming which is a very lucrative business in Nigeria today although people are declaring it unprofitable after their first or second harvest.  With the knowledge of this problem, I made a personal research into the issue and came out with findings and solutions tackle the problem. I also have passionate interest in poultry production as an inexpensive means of enhancing protein consumption in our society.

Starting up is the hardest and easiest thing to do not in terms of money but in terms of interest. Interest is the sole capital you require to start up an agribusiness because even without money, your interest will pave your way to accomplishment. Money gravitates towards ideas and interest, so my interest and idea was my first capital which made start up easier for me. I remember it took me about a year to build my first concrete pond because, I was saving and doing it in bit, by time it was ready I was confident to call in someone to join in stocking the pond, contributing my pond as my equity in the business, this went on for about a year at the end of which I had enough proceed to continue my business alone. I will agree that it has been challenging from the start I have been able to sustain through persistence, faith in GOD, self confidence and support of my family and friends.

Initially, I relied solely on personal study to acquire the skills I needed to excel in the business, but it got to a point I had to meet people who were better experienced in the business for guidance and relevant information. I developed most of the information I obtained and adapted them to suit my conditions and it worked perfectly. Agriculture is an enterprise, at some point I had to develop some entrepreneurial skills and intelligence, though initially on my own through books and journals. I later attended entrepreneurial training program of the Enterprise Development Centre of Lagos Business School at Pan African University where i acquired basic training in entrepreneurial development. Other specialized agricultural skills acquired have been through my association with other professionals and academics in the field of Agriculture.

I have benefited from mentor ship especially from more experienced professionals and academics who have found it worthwhile to nature me with their wealth of experience this has been helpful. Professor Adebayo of Fisheries and Aquaculture at the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTAkure) Nigeria was so helpful during my early days in aquaculture. Also is Mr. Oluwole Yussuf of FUTAkure farm who relentlessly monitors my success in the poultry section of my enterprise.

I have enjoyed training opportunities of the Federal Government and I am currently a mentor under the You Win mentoring Program initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria. I am looking forward to a number of grants and aid from the Federal Government and Agricultural Development Institutions.

For all the young people out there, Agriculture is a very viable enterprise and is interestingly challenging. Giving you an opportunity to give genuinely to your country and get paid with high rewards. Gone are the days when farming was a dirty job, with modern methods of production and equipments agriculture has almost become fully automated requiring the soundest of minds and thinkers. You can take advantage of the changes and innovations in agriculture today and make an impact on your society and make a life for yourself. If you want to get rich quick… go to the farm…”igbe l’owo wa” (There is money in shit or dirty business)”

IGE M. KOLADE

COMPANY: FARM FEEDS AND EQUIPMENT NIGERIA
ADDRESS: C1/7 IREAKARI ESTATE II, ORITA-OBELE AKURE, ONDO-STATE, NIGERIA.
EMAIL: COLLADEE@YAHOO.COM
SKYPE: COLLADEE
PHONE: 08163558535
INTRESTS: POULTRY FARMING, AQUACULTURE, FOOD PROCESSING AND AGRICULTURE EQUIPMENTS PROCUREMENTS

 

6 WAYS TO A RIGHT START IN AGRIBUSINESS IN 2013.

Farm to sack

As we step into the year 2013, a lot of indications at the last quarter cum earlier activity of 2012 shows that serious attention would be drawn to agriculture, with a business unusual dimension for the sector. What this means is that agriculture would no longer be seen as mere farming- a laborious venture with lot of waiting period for benefits to be gotten but rather as a business, a source of employment for the youths, a source of livelihood and most importantly (especially to me) a sector that young people would begin to find desirous, attractive and lucrative.

To succeed as young people cum agric entrepreneurs, it is important that we are armed with not only the relevant information, right and appropriate skills to thrive but have a strong desire and see the attractive but BIG picture in Agriculture, Food Supply Chain, Food Safety etc. Here are a few tips i have decided to share with all the young people out there that desire to go into any part of Agriculture cum Agribusiness or that are already into it.

  •        Be Business Plan Ready: Funding and grant competitions and opportunities would open up in 2013. One of the basic requirements is that you MUST have a business plan. It is important that you have one ready at all times. Like my friend Allavi Elorm of Syecomp Business Services in Ghana said “Make sure your business plan is handy and accessible in both soft and hard copies”. You just have to be ready when the opportunity comes knocking at the door. Be it a competition or the opportunity to pitch your plan before potential clients or investors.

  •     Leverage on the Skills and Knowledge (of your friends and associates): Involve trusted friends (vision or dream builders) in our endeavour. The world we live in is blessed with very blessed individuals and this offers us a win-win environment. Be willing to ask for help from friends who would be ready to do some tasks for you at no cost or a cheaper one. Let us take this as a typical example, do you need to do graphic design works for branding of your agro firm why not talk to a friend who has got expertise in graphic design. Often times, such ones are willing to do it for free or at a comfortable discount. BUT never take the help or discount for granted.

  •    Network and Join the right support Organisations: Trust me, been part of he right networks and organisations either online or offline makes it possible to gain access to information and resources needed. A few examples are Young Professionals’ platform for Agricultural Research for Development(YPARD), Harambe Nigeria, Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN), National Association of Small Scale Industrialist (NASSI) to mention a few. Like the pages and join groups on social networks that relates to agriculture. All these organisations or networks have products, resources, seminars, workshops and other opportunity openings that young agro entrepreneurs need from time to time.

  • Do not Joke with Farmers’ Organisation: Interestingly, government, research institutions, organisation, banks etc. both local and international desire always to align with groups of farmers rather than individuals. So ensure that you are part of a farmers’ organisation or cooperative at the very least. In Nigeria for example, the government recognises the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) and they are found in every state of the federation. So make out time and join one. What more, interacting with fellow farmers and agro allied service providers helps in understanding the terrain and create synergy to tackle common problems and challenges.

 

  •      Be Information Hungry: it is often said that “knowledge is Power”. As young people (with a so much passion, desire that finds Agriculture attractive), we need to be HUNGRY for relevant and credible information and resources. Sometimes this information opens up tips, opportunities and a large array of doors and networks that would be helpful. This brings me to the Power of the Social Media Networks. Merely following the research bodies like CGIAR, FARA, CIMMIT on twitter connects you to lot of information that would be invaluable.

 

  •    Engage in Personal Development and Training: Everyday new findings and results are revealed or unravelled through researches. More knowledge is provided about value chains and investment opportunities for entrepreneurs in the sector. As young entrepreneurs it is important that you get the right trainings through workshops, conferences and specialised training classes. Sometimes you have to pay for them. It could be a new method of cropping or livestock management or even soft skills and business management training. All these makes us fit for the sector and ready to excel.

Join the revolution of Young Agroprenuers, our Nation waits on us to turn things around. This is real business. Follow these tips and some more you may have gathered on your own and be sure of success. See you all at the top.