The agricultural sector holds wide opportunities for young people to tap into given the existing trends in agricultural transformation. The global platform called YPARD has its framework built on youth and youth alone for agricultural development.
As the year 2017 unfolded, YPARD Nigeria held strategic meetings with Local Representatives on the best way to get members engaged and thus drafted out programmes and activities for the year. As the momentum begun and the ball set rolling, the first key activity for the year was held with focus on beekeeping sensitization programme and training for youths in the South-East region of the country, to explore opportunities in the apiculture value chain.
The event held on 3rd February 2017 in Amizi village of Ikwuano Local Government Area of Abia State, through a partnership between YPARD and Interglobal Green Blossom Ltd. There were 59 young people in attendance and 5 top players from the agricultural sector. The participants were carefully selected after evaluation of their keen interest in the sector.
The experts present are professionals with wide experience in research and youth empowerment. These top actors were Mr. E. Ozirim, the State Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Prof. Mbanasor, Agribusiness Head of Department, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike (MOUAU), Prof. Ekumakama, the Director, Centre of Entrepreneurial Development MOUAU, Dr. E.O. Mbanaso Researcher at the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike and Mrs Oluchi Ezeocha, the Deputy Director of Abia state Broadcasting Cooperation.
These actors gave goodwill messages on viable opportunities that exist in the agricultural sector and which, young people can explore. They all expressed their delight with such platform as YPARD, where youth are getting involved and creating solutions to the problems of agriculture. In his message, Prof. Mbanasor said the youth are the strong pillar of any country’s economy and thus, agriculture must be made attractive for them. He added that YPARD has come at a time when young people need to change the face of agriculture and operate efficiently along the value chain.
The programme held was centered on the need to educate young people to be actively involved in agriculture and at the same time, support youth groups aiming at developing the honey production into a small business.
It is noteworthy that honey produced in the South-Eastern states of Nigeria have great potential of being sold for a good profit because of its outstanding quality from the high biodiversity of the rainforest zones. Compared to other beekeeping areas, the South-East zones do not have sugarcane fields which are favorite target for bees in search sweet nectar.
It is a known fact that the honey produced in the region are classified as organic, reason being that, farmers live in a pristine environment with minimal usage of any pesticides and other agrochemicals.
The workshop adopted both theoretical and technical session by first, laying the foundation of apiculture before proceeding to hands-on practice at the hives. These sessions were led by the beekeeping expert Mr. Kingsley Nwaogu, the CEO of Inter-Global Green Blossom Ltd and the YPARD Nigeria Local Representatives for South-West Region. He is an expert with years of experience in the apiculture industry and in training facilitation for farmers.
The specific objectives
The specific objectives of the training workshop were to provide the farmers with basic beekeeping skills to make their hives more productive; provide the farmers with basic marketing skills and contacts; share the understanding of potential opportunities and motivating the potential beekeepers to build up their honey production and empower the youths to take the lead in environmentally friendly livelihoods activities.
Session one – Theoretical approach
At this session, the participants were provided with an overview of YPARD and its activities worldwide, the core vision of YPARD and objectives were discussed in detail. The platform was introduced and the need for the youth to become members was emphasized.
Goodwill and keynote messages was delivered by the invited top actors. The session also focused on the brief history of beekeeping and other subtopics like prospects of beekeeping, production plan, colony description, hive management, pest control, harvesting, processing, packaging and marketing.
Session two – Technical approach
The technical session was basically a hands-on farm tour which allowed participants to be guided in batches to the hives demonstration site, to ensure effective participation and learning. At this session, series of operations were performed such as practical hive inspection, siting, vegetation evaluation and other management principles.
At the end of the training workshop, impact assessment and evaluation was carried out and a follow up plan was developed to ensure continuity of the programme.
What is what
The workshop was very well received by all the participants. They received so much inspiration from detailed knowledge received through observations of the group dynamics during the training as well as from individual conversations with the beekeepers and experts within reach.
The participants said they are motivated to build their honey production enterprises, invest more time into the well-being of their bees and to re-invest in their equipment. At the event participants were informed about other potential sources of income that they were not aware of, such as queen bee marketing and the potential of bees wax marketing.
The assessment carried out revealed that almost all the participants were happy about the information given as well as hands-on practice in the field. They said these have provided them with a technical basis that they need to maintain and expand their bee colonies to make a profitable business out of them in the future.
Hence, YPARD has created a momentum through this beekeeping training to mark an important step towards the development of environmentally friendly livelihoods that empower young people to contribute to a sustainable future for their community.
To whom much is given, much is expected and thus, we would like to specially thank the Global Coordinating Unit and the in-country Coordinating Team of YPARD for the support provided.
Photo credit: Kingsley Nwaogu.