Youth reshaping their future through agriculture
AT AKURE, NIGERIA. THE ENTERPRENEUR UNDER 25 (EU-25) FORUM THEME: 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 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.
- The need to get more information and opportunity, get conscious and make proper use of the internet for effective sensitization and information dissemination as it relates 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!