Incorporating the Culture of Agriculture through Youths in Africa
Over my stay in the university I found that there are opportunities in agriculture only if one is determined to get involved and specialize. I am a student studying agricultural engineering and I am in my penultimate year at federal university of technology Akure, Ondo State Nigeria. Over the years I had developed my interest in agriculture, that interest drove me to become the president of my university association, “The Nigerian Institution of Agricultural Engineering Students”.
At the university, in my second year, we experienced compulsory farm work, where we were made to go to the farm and do the various farming operations by hand, from land clearing to ploughing, ridging, planting and harvesting. Although then we saw it as punishment because we had to work under the scorching sun, today we had the university to thank, today I can boastfully say I can plant maize.
Agriculture is not mainly about farming, in my third year under a short time I was able to design a juice extracting machine and saw it work, it was a school group project I was very excited in seeing the machine work although eventually these machines eventually are going to rust in the engineering workshop due to lack of more research and better aesthetics and ways of getting it across to markets. Then I thought there should be a way of getting these machines across to the farmers who need them at low cost. I know over the years more youths in the university or research institutions are going to just design and these machines eventually deteriorate and rust in the workshop except government put policies to connect these research institutions to industries.
In my fourth year I went for a field trip to a cassava processing and learnt about starch production and I also went for field trips to Songhai farms in Benin republic.
I joined the YPARD network to get my interest in agriculture known and advocate for youths to get into it, even though youths who plan to go into food processing have limited capital, they can still go into basic farming and therefore feed their immediate family, if they have excess they can also sell, we can build our knowledge gradually from experience on the field. Even though I just have a small area of land at the back of my house which I have started planting vegetables, the YPARD network has given me the opportunity to learn other aspects of agriculture through reading of blogs and encourages me to create blogs and expand my knowledge through research.
In July 2013 I attended a conference in Ghana on Youths in Agriculture and entrepreneurship there we were encouraged to startup our farms no matter how small, and form partnerships. We thereafter went to a mango plantation where we learnt about mango production, I can say I have a little knowledge on mango planting in large scale.
In September 2013 I was opportuned to meet with youth agripreneurs at the International institute of tropical Agriculture in Ibadan, Nigeria where we introduced YPARD and was taken along with my colleagues through the IITA farm and shown the production process of seed varieties, and we are in the process of discussing how these improved seed varieties can get to the farmers that need them.
I advocate for youths to go into agriculture, I am currently on research on other aspects of agriculture and I currently plan on sourcing for rabbits to go into livestock production.