youths

THE ROAD TO 2030: ERADICATING POVERTY AND ACHIEVING SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION .


adeI wrote this article for the 2016 International Youth Day and it was first published on Rural Reporter’s website

Mallam Audu works out of the agro shop smiling. He has just purchased all the input for this season’s planting and also got his 30 minutes advisory session from the agro dealer. Two thousand kilometers away, Mr Obi takes delivery of fresh tubers of yams; two bunches of plantain and a basket of tomatoes just 20 minutes after ordering from a mobile app.  The roads leading to Thai community are now well paved and the first textile factory is up and running with quality cotton supplied by farmers in the community. Aba is now home of quality textile with exports to the other regions of Africa. You might wonder, when did all these happen? The year is 2030.

Of course many will say, “These are just wishful thinking and dreams”. They are however very achievable. The role young people in Nigeria, and indeed Sub Sahara Africa, have to play to make all the above a reality cannot be over-emphasised. Little wonder then that this year’s International Youth Day focuses on three fundamental elements –eradicating poverty, achieving sustainable production and consumption by the year 2030. While a whole lot goes into achieving these, agriculture and agribusiness plays a major role. It is also one of the few sectors that can conveniently engage young people solving issues related to hunger, mal-nutrition, unemployment and ultimately food security.

THE ROAD TO 2030

Much is needed to achieve this goal it is however achievable. This article highlight 3 kick off steps needed to achieve this by 2030. It is important to note though that actions are required from now to make this reality To start with, an all inclusive stakeholder consultation is needed. This consultation will involve both public and private sector in agriculture, the farmers, youths and women, donor organizations ,research institutes, health care organization and other organizations or agency that play a role in the agriculture value chain to mention a few. The purpose of this consultation will be to have a holistic need assessment of what is needed to improve and transform agriculture. It will also be an avenue to priotize key focus areas and synergize across board on steps to take to achieve the set goal.

One of the fundamental outcomes expected from this consultation should be a clearly defined value chain transformation road map for each key commodities and agricultural services. A consultation usually ends with a long list of needs to be address and responsibilities to be shared. Due diligence needs to be done to this to ensure every one knows the role they have to play and in what areas of the sector.

It is on the basis of these that required increased investment need to be provided. The Feed Africa Report by the African Development Bank clearly stated that Africa requires US$315bn- US$400bn to realize the Sustainable Development Goals on poverty and ending hunger. It is thus imperative that consistent and purposeful effort be made to provide funding to transforming agriculture and it value chain. This should start with increased allocation of budget to agriculture and related sectors by the governments. It is also important that the government allows the private sector handle the job of running agribusiness while they focus on issues like regulation, health care, research, infrastructure to mention but a few.

Young people are dynamic and energetic. They are also not blinded to the challenges and pressures of the times we live in and as such might not be quickly drawn to engaging in agriculture as they believe that a white collar career in other sectors will provide a better life for them. Of course not every one will be in the agriculture sector. It is however important to note that more than ever before the sector needs intelligent, hardworking, smart and entrepreneurial young men and women to engage in the various aspect of the value chain. It is thus important that changing young people’s perception toward agriculture be given attention.

To succeed in this, a couple of things need to be done

  • Improving the lifestyle of existing smallholders to reflect success by helping them do agribusiness rather than just farming
  • Promoting the success of young people who are doing well in agribusiness
  • Parents and educational institutions promoting from an early age importance of growing ones food through backyard farming and school gardening
  • A joint collaboration by the public and private sector to fund scholarships to study agriculture and to provide grants and loans to young people with ideas in agriculture and agribusiness These kick off steps needs intentional efforts from all involved.

There is no folding of hands and waiting to be spoon fed. Youth, need to get involved in shaping the future they want for themselves. Join in policy discussion, partner with others in areas of interest in agriculture and agribusiness, be ready to learn and get trained if needs be. Display qualities of hard work, honesty and endurance to achieve set goals. If opportune to get funding please use wisely for intended purpose.

 

2030 is not far off from us. As a young person are you prepared to take needed steps to achieve these goals. We all should take sometime to think about this and see areas we can contribute. A little bit of effort will collectively yield good results. . – See more at: http://ruralreporters.com/the-road-to-2030-eradicating-poverty-and-achieving-sustainable-production-and-consumption/ | Rural Reporters

The Role of Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development.

images

To enhance agricultural development in Sub Sahara Africa and especially Nigeria where i come from a lot has to be put into research. Research will not only enhance productivity for farmers and processors , it will also aid in coming forth with best practices, more technologies and methodology to develop rural areas and meet their needs when it relates to their livelihood via agriculture.
Funds, infrastructure, work environment, human resource etc are all keep to producing quality research result especially through universities, NGOs, research centres and agencies. But aside theses Partnership is paramount to enhance research. This is especially true considering that we not live in a global village where we all face common problems and challenges ,besides the exchange of information among researchers is paramount in today’s world.
More often than not it has been discovered that researchers do not team up on issues. Many researchers have been found to be working on the same subject but do so at individual levels. Even institutions of learning have been found wanting in this regard where institutions in same country all work individually on the same research area instead of pooling resources and man power together.
It is however important that researchers learn the need for partnership. This is especially important for our next generation of researchers the youth. Young researchers have to come to the realization that by working with one other either at individual level or at institutional level they can achieve more than working sole. Partnership allows better and more production of result. It enables collective pursuit of individual goals or interest.
Another angle to the benefit of partnership is the fact that it helps parties derive individual benefits. For example, when researchers partner at institutional level it could result in benefit for both parties such as new equipments or even laboratories or workstation for participating institution.
Partnership also allows for pulling together a large bulk of resources that an individual researcher would have had to pay for. Partnership can lead to cooperation between governments; private businesses and the civil society making sustainable development possible as all relevant sectors have a share.
One can however say that the challenge faced is how to choose a partner. In an instance where no relationship existed between interested parties working together might be difficult. However, the sources available have lightened the task. For example, Google Scholar can be found useful in identifying potential partners and what research areas or topic they find appealing. Also professional networking website like Linkedin which is globally accepted can also be a good point to start with our search. Another method could be to look into past studies that are relevant to research topic one is working on and reach out to them. Attending conferences, workshop though sometimes expensive is a good way to meet in person. Researchers interact a lot at conferences and events thus it is a good avenue to foster relationships that will lead to collaborations in the near future.
In all an individual researcher has to show a readiness for partnership to be able to get one. Only collective efforts can get us moving and progressive in the fight against hunger, poverty and food insecurity.

MERGING MY PASSIONS: ICT AND AGRICULTURE

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I grew up loving computers and computer hard wares. At about age 12, I watched my father and uncle fix other people’s computers. Back then we had Pentium 1, 2 and later 3.  We sold hardware parts, such as cases, memory cards, and mother boards. As a matter of fact at age 15, I could single handedly clone a computer system and load it up with the necessary operating system and application software that were available. Thus I could say I grew up loving ICT and computer hardware.

            Little wonder then that I dreamed of studying Electrical and Electronics engineering just to have a broader scope of what I already knew. In 2006, I started out doing a pre-degree program in electrical and electronic engineering so as to enable me pursue a degree. However after a year I was admitted in the university but instead of the desired course I got Agricultural Engineering. And so my journey into the world of agriculture began.

            You would agree with me that Agricultural Engineering was not what I wanted. I remember thinking back then about what the prospects of the course I about to study were. But I accepted it, why? If you live in a country like Nigeria where millions are trying to get into the university all at the same time then you would not joke with that single slot you have gotten.

            It took me till my third year in the university to start realizing the future advantage of the field I had been pushed to as it were. I saw that my field was not just about tractors but a lot more. I could choose to specialize in Food Processing, Irrigation and Drainage, Agric Mechanization and even Soil and Water Conservation.

            I began to see the practicality of my field and relate them to the needs of my environment. I also saw that my country was way behind in the use of agricultural practices and technologies that would benefit them. At this point my passion for agriculture grew.

            The height of my passion came during a six month training I took on the Integrated Farming System where I got hands-on practical knowledge and was involved in Agricultural Research. That was an eye opener. I learnt in Six months things I have not learnt in four years of my stay in the university.(Read more about this on http://ypard.net/testimonials/my-songhai-experience).

            The world of agriculture is verse and wide. It is large enough to take as many people as possible. It is a field that adds value to human lives as it directly or indirectly touches as lives as it meets a primary need of man which is food. Today I have fashioned out a way to merge my passion and that is why I strive hard to acquire skills in Agricultural Research Software and Web 2.0 tools and platforms so that I can have a feeling and be involved in both the ICT world which was my first passion and now agriculture my second to have a perfect combination that would create positive change and sustainable development to my immediate environment and the world as a whole.

Give us a breather!

The message at the FARA-led “Africa side-event” held on the 28th October 2012 at GCARD2 was about Catalyzing Innovations and Entrepreneurship for Agricultural Research and Development”

Increasingly organizations engaged in ARD are calling for greater focus on innovations and the innovations systems approach to increasing agricultural productivity, food security and economic growth. As the world focus is shifting towards innovations, so also is it focusing on entrepreneurship as a tool for promoting agricultural innovations. Initiatives that have however risen for global, regional and national discussions have hitherto failed to integrate the role of the youth as promoters of innovations and entrepreneurship.

Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of FARA and Chairman of GFAR, Prof. Monty Jones, reiterated the need for stakeholders in ARD such as ASARECA, AFAAS, RUFORUM, PAFFO, NASRO, CCARDESA, CORAF/WECARD, RUFORUM, ANAFE, CTA, CGIAR and PANGOC amongst others to work together towards achieving the common goal of agricultural transformation by aligning their efforts to the AU-NEPAD’s CAADP framework. He also agreed that currently Africa faces the challenge of aging farmers and aging scientist in agriculture.

For the youth to be engaged in agriculture, incentives need to be created to ensure that they find agriculture a lucrative and sustainable livelihood. This demands a shift in mindset and will require conceited effort at the continental, sub-regional, national and local government levels.

As the GCARD2 plenary sessions commences, we hope that youth engagement in agriculture will take center stage.

Blog post by Olawale OJO and Idowu EjereImage

The message at the FARA-led “Africa side-event” held on the 28th October 2012 at GCARD2 was about Catalyzing Innovations and Entrepreneurship for Agricultural Research and Development”

Increasingly organizations engaged in ARD are calling for greater focus on innovations and the innovations systems approach to increasing agricultural productivity, food security and economic growth. As the world focus is shifting towards innovations, so also is it focusing on entrepreneurship as a tool for promoting agricultural innovations. Initiatives that have however risen for global, regional and national discussions have hitherto failed to integrate the role of the youth as promoters of innovations and entrepreneurship.

Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of FARA and Chairman of GFAR, Prof. Monty Jones, reiterated the need for stakeholders in ARD such as ASARECA, AFAAS, RUFORUM, PAFFO, NASRO, CCARDESA, CORAF/WECARD, ANAFE, CTA, CGIAR and PANGOC amongst others to work together towards achieving the common goal of agricultural transformation by aligning their efforts to the AU-NEPAD’s CAADP framework. He also agreed that currently Africa faces the challenge of aging farmers and aging scientist in agriculture.

For the youth to be engaged in agriculture, incentives need to be created to ensure that they find agriculture a lucrative and sustainable livelihood. This demands a shift in mindset and will require conceited effort at the continental, sub-regional, national and local government levels.

As the GCARD2 plenary sessions commences, we hope that youth engagement in agriculture will take center stage.

Blog post by Olawale OJO and Idowu Ejere

AGRICULTURE AND AGRIBUSINESS, YOUTH DYNAMISM AS STRATEGIC TURNAROUND IN NIGERIA – PART 2

Agriculture is the backbone of any dynamic and forward looking economy with Nigeria not in exception. It plays an important role in socio-economic development by ensuring food security, providing raw materials for foreign & local industries; generate foreign exchange and income for most of the population, majority of which is rural-based as well as providing employment and other strategic rural – urban economic turnaround opportunities.

These turnaround opportunities are evident in two economies like Brazil and South Africa; these two had turned around their rural areas through agriculture and agribusiness and with youths as the centre into semi and major urban centers. The guest speaker from Brazil at the last 6th economic conference – Ehingbeti 2012 said Brazil has achieved 70% of rural turned urban cities with agriculture as a key part of other factors. Mr Langa Zita, the Director General of the department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, Republic of South Africa reiterated that the government of South Africa had made agriculture cum agribusiness as the pivot for employment and transformation opportunities in the rural cum urban city projects but with YOUTHS at the heart of it. This they have achieved success tremendously.           

Many young people around Africa and Nigeria are beginning to see and experience the advantages and benefit that comes with getting active in agriculture and agribusiness. Gbenga studied Accounting from the University of Ilorin; he got a job with a multinational company just a few months after his youth service. Even at that he still went into agriculture; four years down the line, he started with fish rearing and presently he has a poultry farm and i can still visualize how every morning the number business of people doing eggs, feeds and other business. At our last discussion, he has started training in pig farming which is the next prospect. His network of the business, techno-agro symbiotic management is the trade secret but with a youthful oriented workforce.

In Sierra Leone, Arthur William had a dream of starting a company when he graduated. He shared his vision with three friends who extended it to the whole class of seven in the department of Agricultural Engineering at the Njala University in 2009. They donated 5 US Dollar monthly for this purpose; Overtime the contributors dropped to three people since others could not meet up. In 2010, they invested this seed money in 30 acres of land with oil palm plantation, Rice, Cassava, Vegetable and fruit trees like mango and oranges were planted. The revenue obtained from these products was used to expand the business and support their Post Graduate studies. They also operated at very low cost by getting help from about 20 other youths in the community who got paid not on a monthly basis but by getting 40% of the profit from the sales made. This proved successful and a means to encourage other youth into agriculture.

These two are just a few of many young people who despite the challenges have made use of the opportunities open to them in agriculture and agribusiness. The solution to the problem of food insecurity as the population increases lies in our hands as Nigerian youths. Some ways we can have a good start as successful agric-entrepreneur (Agroprenuer) is to do the following:

Ø      Take active interest and grow a passion for agriculture and its business and a particular aspect that can network other areas as a cycle.

Ø      Think Big with a business plan and entrepreneurial advice from Banks, consultants but always start small, within the capacity you can afford and handle.

Ø      Be well informed about the aspect of agriculture you want to go into especially the risks involved and the market value of product at each stage of the value chain.

Ø      Network with other young people. There are a lot of youth out there who are already into agriculture. Attend Seminars and workshop on agriculture and agribusiness even if you have to pay.

Ø      Acquire practical knowledge. Read books, manuals, journals and work for others on their farms to gain experience and exposure.

Ø      Get training in business planning, marketing and management it has proved very helpful because a major challenge of most agriculturists in Nigeria is their inability to build a business plan and market to their products.

Ø      Be observant and open to new information, techniques etc.

Ø      Be ready to be a team player, most aids from the government and the Bank of Agriculture sometimes require you are in a group of ten or there about. So start watching out for young people you can join hands and work together

Ø      Follow the trend of activities around you to get updated about opportunities open to you through programs like YOUWIN, FADAMA, Agric Growth Enhancement Scheme(GES), First Bank Farm Scheme and others that would be coming on soon under the Agric transformation agenda.

WAYS NIGERIA UNIVERSITIES CAN OPTIMIZE THE STUDENT INDUSTRIAL WORKING EXPERIENCE SCHEME (SIWES) PROGRAM TO BOOST AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT (ARD).

Today, I watched as students in their fourth year in my university (Federal University of Technology Akure, Nigeria) picked up their log books for the six month SIWES program. This is generated some thoughts in my head as it relates to the development and sustainability of agriculture among young people especially those studying courses related to agriculture.

The Student Industrial Working Experience Scheme (SIWES) was established by the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) in 1973 to solve the problem of adequate practical skill, preparatory for employment in industries by Nigerian Undergraduate and Diploma students of tertiary institutions. The scheme was designed for duration of six months for university undergraduates. During this period, every student is expected to acquire all necessary practical skill and orientation, as well as technical knowledge needed to adequately develop national man-power and human resources.

Based on these facts, I proffer the following suggestion to boost Agricultural Research and Development:

  1. Partnership With the Government: The universities can partner with the government by having an agreement with them that they would accept a certain number of students to intern with the Ministries of Agriculture, Ministries of Environment and Agricultural Research Bodies owned by the government. This would afford the students the opportunity to learn new things, practice what they have learnt over the years and get exposure. They could also engage in ongoing projects and be of help to the facilitators.
  2. Full Usage of University Farms and Research Centre: Oftentimes, universities have farms, the university could expand these farms and take in some students to work during the SIWES program. The farm can initiate various mini-project and research works under proper supervision that would engage the students, thus promoting skill acquisition and capacity building in ARD.
  3. Partnership with Privately Owned Agro-based Industry: Most times, student battle with getting placement in companies and industries to carry out their internship. Some even spend as much as three to four months out of the six months before getting a placement. Another set of students, even go ahead to work in places having little or no relation to their course of study. Considering these fact, the university can partner with industries and farms privately owned to take in the student during the SIWES program as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility.
  4. Payment of Monthly Stipend: In Nigeria, a stipend of about 100Dollars (15,000 Naira) is paid after the entire six months. Sadly, for the past four years it has not even been paid. Arrangement should be made to make sure it is paid and can also be reviewed that something is paid monthly rather than at the end of the whole program.
  5. Proper Documentation of Activities: The Universities should take in proper and well detailed reports of the student’s activities during the SIWES program. Their report can be a base for further research work or re-modeling of existing agricultural practices and research work.

The agricultural Sector in Nigeria can have sustainable development when young men and women coming out of the tertiary institutions have the required skills and knowledge to work with when they leave the four walls of the universities. If these suggestions can be implemented I believe there would be considerable advancement in Agricultural Research and Development.