The challenges of succeeding in farming and agro business are immense for young people. To address these, Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD), an international movement, met in Lagos to share the know-how needed to build agribusiness during the organisation’s 10th anniversary, DANIEL ESSIET was there.
Chief Executive Officer, AgriHub Nigeria, Aderonke Aderinoye, is on the fast track to building a successful career in the food industry. She was one of the speakers during the 10th anniversary forum of Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD), which was held in Lagos.
She left her banking job to start farming business. Today, she has a thriving business, completed an entrepreneurial training programme, and led the launch of a private farm estate. The young farmer, Aderonke, is the founder of Keeko Food Hub and AgriHub Nigeria.
“At Agrihub, the aim is to create shared values for youths, particularly in agriculture and mentor ship through partners,” she said.
The advantage she has is her ability to adopt technology to boost her farming. These include tracking the growth of crops as well as ensuring that the farmers adopt better agricultural practices and make every crop traceable.
She has more than 50 acres, growing different crops. With the support of technology, she got significant achievements in agriculture. Her farming is fascinating, but it requires continuous hard-work and devotion.
With the acquired experience, she was able to study the profile of her farms, advise on the best production method, seed treatment, integrated pest management (IPM), use of raised bed and scientific cultivation.
For her, agriculture is not merely a profitable business, it is her vision, passion and mission. This is revealed in her words, deeds and thoughts. With her success, Aderonke also motivates several farmers to adopt the scientific cultivation method.
To further this, her organisation has established a private farm estate in Ogun State to facilitate knowledge transfer to aspiring young farmers through access to farmers with experience. This also aids in practical knowledge and will help to boost zeal in the youth to engage in agriculture.
Aderinoye argued the case for developing youth-led agribusi-ness to shape a better future for the country. She is determined to reach out to youth food businesses with a triple bottom line vision, and is ready to contribute to the foundation of a broader community in addition to having a great food business. Agribusiness, she added, offers valuable opportunities to youths as a pathway to improving livelihoods, job creation and economic growth. “If planned properly,” she said, “it could lift thousands of youths out of poverty.”
She added that youths could be empowered to launch small-scale agribusiness activities and a wide range of successful ventures.
According to her, the future is certain to be bright for youths who venture into agribusiness. With her, the promise of the sector to turn around millions of lives for the better, continues to get believers and financiers.
Another success story is that of Samuel Kalu, the young Chief Executive Officer of Agritechnovate Solutions Enterprises. With the encouragement from government helping farmers to diversify into agriculture. He started by growing on large acres, but the profits were minimal due to labour cost. Vegetable cultivation was his main source of livelihood, however, the declining production and income were of great worries to him. He researched and learnt new production technologies for vegetable crops.
He acquired all relevant information concerning the cultivation of his crops. Today, he is making money from farming cucumber on one plot. From one plot of land where he invested N50,000 to plant cucumber, Kalu made N150,000. The plant takes two and half months to mature and ripe after planting. His strategy is to plant crops with huge market and demand.
The farm has an array of agronomic practices that guarantee a year-round supply of produce for commercial purposes and household consumption.Kalu is inspiring other farmers to grow vegetable crops.The challenge for him has been lack of offtakers, or the market for the quantity of cucumbers produced on his farm.
Kalu said there was need for capacity building, to put youths in stronger position to run dynamic agribusinesses and help them grow.
He said there were opportunities in agribusiness and the government needed to develop appropriate policies for it, engage and encourage the youth.
Kalu noted, however, that unless deliberate interventions were taken to ensure that farmers, achieve higher yields and better prices for their output, the youth will not venture into the sector despite its viability.
He noted that youths face challenges in seeking greater participation in the agricultural sector. The main challenges, according to him, include access to knowledge, information and education. Poor and inadequate farming knowledge, he stressed, limits productivity and as well as hinder the development of entrepreneurial ventures.
He added, however, that some diseases may affect plants on the farm; therefore, appropriate pesticides should be used.
YPARD Nigeria Country Representative, Olawale Ojo said there were opportunities for young professionals throughout the food and supply chain.
Creating a positive perspective for young people exploring opportunities in agriculture, Ojo said, was essential for sustainable food supply and job creation.
Ojo said the establishment of YPARD began as young professionals to realised that they needed guidance to achieve their full potential and contribute towards innovative agricultural development.
According to him, the group through its activities seeks to equip youths with necessary agricultural, business and social skills, which allow them to make critical and informed decisions about agriculture, to become business entrepreneurs, and decrease the inaugural challenges of building up a viable agribusiness.
His campaign is zeroed on young farmers to ensure that they meet the quality standards, the quantity required and a constant supply is guaranteed. In return, farmers have a stable market for their produce and at a better price.
He appealed to young people to approach farming as a business. With employment not readily available, Ojo believes that youths can create their own employment.
The Head, Communications, YPARD Nigeria, John Agboola, said the youth in farming are quite different from the old generation.
He stressed the need to empower young people to find meaningful employment in modern, dynamic, productive and profitable agriculture.
He said YPARD Nigeria was undertaking activities aimed at creating interest in and commitment to agricultural development among the youth, through information exchange, dialogue, networking and mentorship.
Among other issues, participants agreed on the need for model farms to enhance the attractiveness of agriculture in the eyes of youth. They maintained that a strong and resilient food system can have a transformational effect on youths by creating jobs and spurring growth in rural and urbaneconomies.
To achieve this, youths need to adopt climate-smart, sustainable agricultural practices.
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