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The Journey on the Farm: My #IamAg Theory of Evolution

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.

Counting the years in a timely order and exactly year 2000, my late mother gained employment as a cleaner at one of the very first banks in my home town (Otun Ekiti). This was a good news to our family and so was the excitement that we were relocating from Ilorin, Kwara State to the farm where green vegetables and farm produce are in abundance.

The say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and my first step after the relocation was working in the farm. Idecided to join a family brother and his labourers first as an amateur with zero farm experience and second as a knowledge-driven person who was ready to accumulate all the farm experiences in just one day all thanks to my curiosity. As a growing child then, the first day on the farm was  both good and bad

Field technicians planting cassava

The good–The first day on the farm was one of the good things I have experienced. At 4.00 in the morning, we started our trek to the farm whose distance is at 4 kilometer.An hour later,we were greeted by birds cock-a-doodle-doo and frogs sounds. Oh! How scared I was at those sounds but people around laughed it off. To me, it brought to lfe the saying ‘’do your work in the morning because the night draws near’’ as i watched everyone everyone change to their farm dresses (a very dirty and torn piece of cloth).I didn't know that you had to change your dress on the farm to avoid dirt.

Work started and men were separated from the young ones like me. I was astonished at the rate in which heaps were cultivated and the traditional songs they sung which provided a source of motivation while working. As a foodie, i was more elated on the farm food. Breakfast was merged with lunch and consisted of roasted corn with garden egg and stream water. It was quite some incomparable fun on the my part

The bad – This experience came about during the farm preparation and soil  tilling  period. Both my hands were swollen and working outside the scorching sun left me wondering why the farm labourers couldn'd consider my being a first timer and allow me to work at my pace. Long and short of it,i felt a little lazy.

Beyond day one on the farm, I gradually became the real farm-boy who cultivated and still cultivates different crops alongside my family brother. We have merged together roughly three hectares of land to allow for large scale cultivation. Additionally, from the first day in my new school, I developed a passion for agriculture and was the best agricultural student with strong interest in practical aspect. This was obviously stirred up by my continuous farm engagement activities during holidays and weekends. At the time of Christmas and New Year celebration, it is bound to occur that demand outweighed supply. Thus, making money from the sales of vegetables was one of my topmost engagement.

Having a strong passion for agriculture, I decided to further my studies in the university and after searching online for agricultural related courses, i came across one titled Agricultural Biology. On inquiring further, I was told it was not in existence so i settled for Agricultural Economics and finally, i was offered an admission to pursue a degree in Agricultural Economics and Extension. The different courses i took at the university strengthened my passion and gave me direction to my agricultural journey. I worked hard to be the best not only on the farm but also in academic excellence.

My practical involvement in agriculture has taught me that agriculture goes beyond the four walls of the classroom. Combining both the practical experience and theoretical learning is essential to conceive of practical ways to support agriculture and help in the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Through my passion for agriculture and with special focus on smallholder farmers and youth, i started an initiative in 2015, called AgrindusNetwork. The network aims at creating a sense of belonging for smallholder farmers and youth in Agriculture with a strategic focus on Integrated Agricultural Communications, Youth and Agriculture, Agricultural Research, Advocacy for Smallholder Farmers, Content Development and Writing, ICT4Ag. 

It is worth mentioning that challenges in agriculture are not new and it’s almost the same everywhere but with consistency, determination and passion at what I do, I am who I am, the best of my kind. Today, I am agricultural economist, an agricultural extension officer and an agricultural communicator not only for YPARD Nigeria but for agriculture.You too can choose your agricultural path and become the best and that could turn out to be an inspiration for someone out there.

This post from John Agboola, the YPARD Nigeria communication officer is part of the Farming First  series “I am Agriculture”, that showcases the many careers available to young people in agriculture.Are you a young professional in agriculture with a story to share? Tweet using #IamAg to join the campaign and inspire more young people to get involved in agricultural careers.

Photo 1 and 3: John ; Photo 2: IITA/Flickr