What is the purpose of this and what do you gain from it?
YPARD team believes that sharing experience enables:
informing on good practices and lessons learned
generating thoughts and ideas for optimizing activities
inspiring each other for more innovation and entrepreneurship
My father’s love of gardening intrigued me. He would often graft roses and create bushes with multi-colour blooms. The plants were beautiful and the budding scientist in me kept wondering, how are plants able to do this?The first plant I ever grew is the commonly known ‘Red Apples’ (Aptenia cordifolia). My primary school teacher asked everyone to bring in a rinsed 1L soft drink bottle unknowingly to all of us that we were making mini-greenhouses. The teacher chose a variety of plants but A. cordifolia, stood out to me as I thought it was a “broken plant” for i couldn't see the roots. I was assured that it would grow, and it certainly did. “How is this possible?!” I keep wondering and this sparked my quest to discover more about the incredible world of plants.
My childhood dream was to be a veterinarian because I love animals. But as I was growing up, I realised that it was not for me since I was scared of blood and everything related to hospitals and doctors. At secondary school, I had no idea what I wanted to be. I chose to study science because I liked biology a bit more than the other subjects, but there was nothing more than this. I was never among the first ones in my class and did not really do anything exceptional to make me stand out from the crowd. I was just the average student with average grades. But little did I know that it was all about to change some years later.
I spent the first 11 years of my childhood in Gboko Benue state, Nigeria, where I had my primary school education. Benue state is the “food basket of the Nation” because it is mainly an agrarian state. I grew up knowing that farming was a way of life. As a primary school pupil, my interest was in sciences: primary science, agricultural science and mathematics. It was common then to ask pupils to plant seeds in tins and cans and bring them to school as an assignment. I was always looked forward to such practical work. At high school my interest grew even stronger. It was fun, and a source of pride to call plants and animals by their scientific names.
When I was younger, I dreamed of studying something related to nature. I got this passion from my grandparents, who were involved in livestock keeping in the north of Peru. We lived in the capital, but I would always look forward to the holidays, when I could go to their farm to help them. When we were very small, my father taught my siblings and I how to manage the cattle, to milk the cows, ride horses and cultivate the land. He had learnt all this from his own father. We eventually left the city, and my father took on the farm, and now I’m learning how to as well.
I reflect on the popular adage that says ‘’one thousand years before men is like one second before God’’. Alas! The same is almost true for men just that things happen at a blink of the eye.
I could remember vividly when I was growing up and my late mother told me "Hey! John, do not worry too much, before you blink your eye, you are already out of primary school and fulfilling your dream". I thought this was a joke, a dream far from being true but it happened to be a reality with matter of time.
Remember that question that teachers were always asking us at school: what do you want to be when you grow up?
Kids used to say astronauts, the president, engineers, soccer players, doctors and many more but my answer was different. I always said I wanted to do what my dad does. I wanted to work in development.
For the last three years, I have been living in the rural valley of Oxapampa in central Peru, working on, among other things, sustainable agricultural production systems. I have a small plot of land where I am humbly trying to develop a small agro-ecological production system. Based on these experiences, I thought it might be interesting to share some ideas on how to guarantee upscaling of sustainable agriculture and the essential role young people play in that challenge.
As I write this, a diffuse blanket of smoke covers the entire valley with a fog-like haze dense enough to make the cloudless sky look more white than blue. The sunlight that reaches the ground bathes everything in an orange tone.
I developed the passion for food at a young age as I became aware of my interests and the pleasure it gave me. My Italian heritage made this even more pronounced as we use food to show love and friendship and bring family together. Growing up it became clear to me that food was the main agricultural output and this resulted to a discovery of my passion for agriculture.
It was this curiosity and interest in food that led me to pursue a career in biology. During my studies, I learned about the long history of food that average consumers are unaware of when shopping at their local markets. The experience not only made me care more about agriculture and the diverse ways to producing food but also turned me into a more conscious consumer.
Growing up on the farm, in the rural area, provides a unique life experience. You learn many life skills and lessons. It can be exciting but there are times that it can be challenging as well. “I didn't think much of these rural experiences at the time, but I have begun to appreciate them lately in my work and life. Anytime I step on the farm, I become like a child again”
I live in Kumasi, Ghana and I work with a social enterprise that serves the needs of smallholder farmers to turn them into successful entrepreneurs. I like the city for its greenery and moderate cost of living. Kumasi is a big city with about 1.17m inhabitants and I have lived here for almost 9 years. But this is not where I grew up. When I meet people and tell them that I grew up on a farm, in a rural area, they hardly believed me. This happened so much that I stopped talking about it. But recently, my conversations with some colleagues about my childhood made me realize that I had a lot to share about my experiences growing up on the farm. This is the reason why I went down memory lane and put together this piece as a way of sharing my experiences.
I was a bit intimated at first because I knew nothing about using social media to support a conference and plus it was on topics I hardly knew about. I was not sure if I should join YPARD because I did not have an agricultural background and I was new to working in this sector. Then I thought, why not? So,I took a leap of faith and I decided to join YPARD so that I could learn more and interact with young professionals in the field.
The experience I had remotely / online has been life changing for me. Even though I have never been to any event in person, supporting various events via social media over the years have made me feel part of the group. The lessons learned from live-tweeting during events, webinars, blog posts and the exchange of emails by various members have empowered me so much. My outlook and image about agriculture and youth’s role has been forever changed since 2012.
Piggy banks- we all grew up with them and they were an instrumental piece to inculcate a saving culture. It’s an interesting analogy for pigs to be associated with money given that in many Indian households, pig farming as a profession is looked down upon given the stereotypes that pigs are dirty and filthy.
But one 36 year old farmer, Mr. Amar Singh, has taken the unconventional path and is currently rearing pigs against the societal expectations. Last Friday, I paid a visit to his piggery farm and his inspiring journey to successful pig farming was deeply ingrained in my mind that I couldn’t resist sharing. Here is Amar’s success story that I hope will motivate more youth to consider pig farming.
In the late 2014, Miriam Hird-Younger, as part of her series “Investing in Youth in Agriculture-Engineers Without Borders Canada in Ghana” showcased the potential and future of agriculture in Ghana. She also highlighted a few of the youths that inspired her in her work in Ghana for which my story was one of them. As part of my contribution to the success and vision of YPARD as well as my goals, I would also like to publish the success stories of some of the youths who benefited from my mentoring and advocacy for success in agriculture. I see this as a “fruit yielding fruits” and thanks to YPARD and Mirriam Hird-Younger of EWB-Canada for helping me to challenge and encourage my fellow youths for success in agriculture in Ghana as well as sharing my stories globally.
Emmanuela Clinton, CEO Nuela Clintons Farm, located in Aniocha South Local Government Area in Delta State, Nigeria story for agriculture is not one that you hear everyday.
A Bachelors of Economics graduate from Covenant University, Emmanuela worked in Lagos before starting her poultry farm in January, 2013 . In a period of two years, she has managed to gracefully from her birds from 100 birds to 2000 birds.
Growing up Dina Dominic had always dreamt of being self-employed. Ideas were plenty on how she would go ahead with self-employment. She could open a beauty parlor, a mini super market, a gym perhaps or even a restaurant.
And in  when she joined Sokoine University of Agriculture to pursue a BSc Home Economics and Human Nutrition, her path in entrepreneurship became more vivid. As a finalist at the university, a union called SUGECO was formed. The union was to cater and encourage fresh graduates who have a passion for entrepreneurship, graduate who think beyond employment. In collaboration with the University and a financial institution (CRDB bank), a project to train, coach and fund fresh graduates was formed and Dina and her partner were among the beneficiaries of that project. She participated in a business plan writing competition and won a loan of 60 million TSH. (28,000 UDS).
At the age of 33, Rozi Chisowa a Bachelor of Journalism graduate from the University of Malawi is now living her dream. First born child in a family of four, Rose worked with several institutions before realizing that the money she was getting from her work place was not enough and so she quit and started doing business.
In October 2013, she made the switch from RSA business to animal production with four piglets which after 4 months multiplied to 45 pigs. She later sold 40 of her piglets and used the profits to buy layers chickens, broilers, rabbits and goats.
Growing up, I didn’t dream to be an agricultural engineer. I wanted to be an engineer in science technologies, but it did not occur to me that I would be a professional agronomist. After finishing High school, I was at admitted the Higher Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry to study agriculture. I was upset. I didn’t expect to study agriculture in my life. People close to me kept saying that agriculture is a good option but for me ,at that time I didn’t see the good in it.
Anyway, i went to study agriculture with a broken heart but day after day I came to realise how great agriculture is. In the end , i graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Soil and Water Management department, Faculty of Agricultural Engineering and Environmental sciences at ISAE-BUSOGO (Higher Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry).
The Korean Government recently bestowed a certificate of excellence on Mr. Michael Kwabena Osei, a Strengthening Capacity for Agricultural Research and Development in Africa (SCARDA) scholarship recipient at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) who graduated in 2010 with a Master of Science (MSc) Degree in Plant Breeding. Michael won the Korea Africa Food and Agriculture Cooperative Initiative (KAFACI) award on the 26th of November, 2015 with a certificate of outstanding project and other RDA Souvenirs. The tomato research project led by him with funding from the Korean government under KAFACI was adjudged by the donors as the outstanding project among 14 African member countries of KAFACI after evaluation of the country project from November 2011 to November 2014.
A plant breeder currently working on vegetable improvement with emphasis on tomatoes and funding from SCARDA, his research activities focus on identifying farmers’ constraints in the field and designing experiments to find solutions to those problems. Michael Osei’s award winning project looked at “developing and transforming vegetable technologies in Ghana: the case of tomato”.
Aralova Dildora grew up on the city where its usually isolated from the real farm life and for a long time, she had no idea on farming and the challenges of harsh desert zone conditions that farmers faced during the sowing period in Central Asia.
After graduating with a Bachelors degree in Environmental Science, Aralova sought to get better knowledge on environment by enrolling in a Master in Science on same subject at Samarkand State University, Uzbekistan.At the same time,Aralova started her research collaboration with Prof. Kristina Toderich (International Center of Biosaline Agriculture, Tashkent office) where her life turned right away.
Whenever Christabell Afrane remembers the many fun times she always had with her cousins back in Juaso, a small village in the Ashanti region in Ghana she becomes melancholic.
During those visits which were vacations from school, they had to walk long distances with her granny to help her on her farm. The walk back was always dreadful as they had to carry loads of food and crops with their head pans. Her granny farmed on a small piece of land with cutlasses and hoes.