entrepreneur

Representing African Youths in ARD at The GCARD 2

Speaking on behalf of YPARD AFRICA at the FARA Side- event at the GCARD2

YPARD was invited to present to it activities to theThe Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) at it pre-event conference side event activities held on the 28th of October 2012 at the 2nd Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2) holding at Punta del Este, Uruguay. The session was focusing on “Catalyzing African Innovations and entrepreneurship” and it was dedicated to showcasing innovations and entrepreneurships within the agriculture knowledge system in Africa. The objectives of the event were

1.    Share at the global level experiences in catalyzing innovations and entrepreneurship by different regional coordinating bodies from extension to youth and civil society organizations and

2.    Create opportunity to discuss possible partnerships with other continents for South-South and North-South Cooperation.

The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) is the apex organization for coordinating and facilitating agricultural research extension and Education in Africa. It hosts YPARD Africa. As a result, among the many stakeholders in ARD such as ASARECA, AFAAS, RUFORUM, PAFFO, NASRO, and PANGOC who were present at the event, YPARD Africa was also present to showcase to the apex body their activities so far and plans for the future.

I was invited to represent YPARD Africa and present activities of the continental arm of the organization to the stakeholders. Among the many things mentioned was the role of YPARD in networking Young Professionals in Agricultural Research for Development together and providing a structure for them to show case their works in all areas of Agriculture.

I also elaborated on the role YPARD plays in not only giving voice to the youths but also bringing it to the doorstep of the stakeholders and senior professionals. A typical example is the lobbying for sponsorship of four YPs from Africa to join 12 others from all over the world to bring the voice of youths to the GCARD2. The role YPARD plays in sharing and disseminating information to the youth was showcased as well. Stakeholders at the event also found interesting the YPARD’s program to showcase the efforts of YP doing well in agriculture through its YP of the month testimonial page on their website and it was applauded.

I went ahead to explain the challenges faced by young professionals and YPARD as an organization. These included:

     i.        The need for Young Professional to have more access to internships, field works and mentorship from the various arms of agriculture.

    ii.        The need to provide training on entrepreneurship and soft skills to improve innovation systems.

   iii.        The problem of making agriculture attractive to young people

   iv.        Value addition to the career with appropriate reward system and

    v.        Funding for more offline activities and administrative activities of YPARD Africa at national levels

The various stakeholders appreciated the effort of YPARD so for and encouraged that the flag be kept flying. These discussions were brought before the global research community during FARA’s presentation at the conference itself.

 

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THE COOL TO FARM WORKSHOP AKURE,NIGERIA

“Agribusiness, cool business”, these were the words on the lips of the 39 young people who attended the “Cool to Farm” Workshop series in the city of Akure, Ondo State on the 21st of November 2012.

The Cool to Farm” workshop was put together by two youth driven organizations the OAC-Agro Advocacy Initiative and Agropreneur Nigeria. The workshop had the theme “it’s Cool to Farm- Exploring the opportunities in Agriculture and Agribusiness for young Nigerian”.

The workshop kicked off with the Olusola Amusan of the OAC- Agro Advocacy Intiative showing to those present the challenges before them as it relates to food wastage, unemployment and increasing population while Olawale Ojo of Agropreneur Nigeria went on a journey of showing to the youth what the agricultural value chain entails and how they can find their place by developing skills to fit in any of the links of the value chain.

The panel session featured stakeholders from key areas of the agricultural sector such as the All Farmers Association, The World Cocoa Foundation and a seasoned UNDP Consultant on poverty alleviation with over 25 years experience. These facilitators not only showed the audience that agriculture and agribusiness were the way out but also provided practical steps and suggestions to help them get more involved in the sector. All the relevant areas of the sector was touched such as research, extension, ICT,  farmers organizations and the need for partnership among players in the sector.

Mr Idowu Oludare of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria Ondo state chapter proclaimed that the youth were really needed and encouraged to pick up an area of interest and grow passion for agriculture.

Input supply, on- farm production, post harvest handling, export trade , research and development delivery and extension work were some of the opportunities in the cocoa production sector in Nigeria that Mr  Tope Fatunbi opened up to the youth who were surprised that there were a lot more they could do out side having to go to the farm to get dirty as it were.

The women were not left out as Awoyinka Tosin CEO, Afrinutriti a producer of ginger syrup and juice showed to the ladies that they had a very important role to play especially in the area of agro processing of food materials and she emphasis that they do not want to just be laborers on the farm but also producers and job creators.

Breakout sessions that followed had the youths go into two groups to discuss challenges related to factors that hinder the development of youths in agriculture namely, Training, funding, capacity building and the use of ICT in agriculture and agribusiness. The result of the breakout sessions were then discussed extensively to proffer sustainable solutions.

In the words of Mr Isaac Oluwalade of the Cocoa Livelihood Program which is a project between the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the World Cocoa Foundation “we are happy that the youths are beginning to show interest in the sector and we would continue to work with the organizers of this workshop to reach more youth with the message”

The future of Nigeria and indeed Africa is in agriculture and it is only when the youths take their place in the streams of event that real change can come. The “cool to farm” workshop series has taken upon itself the responsibility of advocating for more youth involvement in agriculture and agribusiness and would be moving from city to city spreading the message in the months to come.

THE ENTERPRENEUR UNDER 25 (EU-25) FORUM ON AGRIC-BUSINESS

On April 29 2012, fifteen (15) young men and women came together to discuss on the future of agriculture and agric-business in Nigeria.

The EU-25 is a monthly entrepreneur forum which is done over lunch where entrepreneurs under the age of 25 come together to discuss on how effectively create change positively. The EU-25 is put together by the Olusola Amusan Company (OAC).

The month of April 2012, focused on Agriculture and how youth can transform the sector. The facilators were two young farmers; Mr. Ajifola Afolabi of NETIVA Farms and Mr. Olalekan Bankole a fish farmer and a consultant with the Ondo State Government on Agric matters.

During the introduction, Moses Ogunyemi, who is a student and a poultry farmer acknowledged the growing population of Nigeria and the need for people to be feed at all times. Thus stressing the need for we the youth to take charge and transform agriculture in Nigeria.

Olalekan Bankole, a graduate of Forestry and Wood Technology and a Fish farmer elaborated on the challenges faced especially in the Agric-business in Nigeria and as it relates to youth.

Some of them are:

  • Lack of interest on the part of youth to engage in agriculture. An example was a Local Government Area in Ondo State, Nigeria, where having set up a tomato paste processing plant, the government asked that the youth in the community joins hands to work together on a tomato plantation so as to get the raw materials and the youth refused because they saw it as work for the poor. Most young ones have no passion for agriculture. They want quick money.
  • Low number of agro-based industry.
  • Inconsistent weather for arable crop farmers.
  • Need for more machineries.
  • Unfavorable government policies as it relates to accessing funds and land acquisition.
  • A large gap between Academics & Research and what happens on the field.

The group moved on to discuss some the way out. Afolabi Ajifola of NETIVA Foods shed light on how to make use of the few opportunities open to us as agropreneurs effectively such as

  • Ways to access loan from the Bank of Agriculture, Nigeria
  • Ways to get access to farm machineries to work on farm lands through the Ministry of Agriculture and other bodies and organizations.

At the end of the forum, the 15 young people agreed to the following sets ways to improve and transform agricultural development in Nigeria:

 

  • Massive sensitization of Nigerian youth on the need to get involved in Agricultural development and the benefits that comes from it.
  • Initiation of an Agroclub to aid networking of young farmers.
  • The need to be more information and opportunity conscious and make proper use of the internet for effective sensitization and information dissemination as it relate to agriculture and agric-business.
  • Creating networks and synergy among like minds to create and manage agric-businesses.
  • Acquisition of entrepreneurship skills
  • Improving our food processing skills so as to give out quality finished products.
  • The government also needs to be shown that the future of agriculture lies in the hands of the youth. And this can only be done when we defy all odds, start small and showcase our works to the government.

We thus all agreed that with proper passion, vision, persistence, networking, hard work and making effective use of information and opportunities available we truly can change our future for the better through agriculture.