Recently, findings and evidence have shown that we may face another challenge that is not born because of conflicts and disputes as seen in the past century, but a challenge born out of the inability for a nation to successfully provide food for its citizens.
Hunger is not based on seasonality and so, food production and food security should not be seasonal. This concern about hunger and malnutrition requires concrete efforts from different stakeholders towards boosting food production and attaining food security. To play an impactful role in this game-changing paradigm, the youth have risen massively to ensure that this danger is averted. However, the youth in this process have over the years been faced with several issues preventing the actualization of the dream to achieve food security and reduce post-harvest losses.
Owing to these highlights, YPARD Nigeria under their chapter of operations in Osun State had a YPARD Osun Agro-Connect with meets in the state to proffer possible solutions to the challenges faced by young farmers and other agricultural professionals. The meeting was able to identify the different bottlenecks facing the progress of agriculture and food security attainment among young people. These include lack of information; incidence of people withholding information that can be of benefit to agribusiness start-ups; little or no access to technological equipment; lack of funds, poor road network; unstable market for agricultural produce; long chain of middlemen; and lack of farmers organization that could possibly aid in advocating for better operational conditions for both young and local farmers.
The Agro-Connect event which was held at Akin SS Store Modakeke, Osun State started with a welcome address by Julian Akinremi, the YPARD Osun state Coordinator. He gave a brief highlight of YPARDs mission and objectives and how YPARD has been committed to promoting agriculture among young people. The introduction from all the participants present announced the presence of professionals in the fields of poultry farming, post-harvest handling, bee-keeping, rabbit farming, ICT for agribusiness as well as arable crop production.
Following the brief on YPARD operation across the globe, Olaoluwa, one of the active YPARD members facilitated a roundtable discussion on issues around post-harvest losses, problems of agribusiness in Osun state and existing marketing bottlenecks in agribusiness. Through the robust discussion from the different participants who contributed to the discussion, there merged possible solutions on the different issues raised. YPARD members at the event highlighted the importance of networking in creating opportunities for financial aid to strengthen the future agribusiness ideals being set up by young people.
As a follow-up to the roundtable discussion, participants at the event evaluated possible methods of beating the impending challenges and enabling local businesses to scale-up. The discussion resonates that there is a need for the establishment of a regulated agricultural market for agricultural produce which will enhance efforts. This market establishment will encourage young people as well as reward efforts of young farmers while they are motivated to update their knowledge on agribusiness through seminars, conferences, workshop and boot camps.
In another discussion, participants stressed the importance of forming farming clusters as a means to enable local farmers to gain access to government and international support. It was recommended that entrepreneurs and agribusiness start-ups need to conduct adequate market research before starting agribusiness enterprises while adapting climate-smart practices in order to mitigate climate change.
After the different discussions held, YPARD members at the event agreed to hold sensitization programs for youths in various local government areas and appoint a local working committee for the upcoming Youth Connect which comes off in a month's time. Members also pointed out the need to empower youth through hands-on training in various farms and organizations that were present at the meeting including Fourteen Farms, Gbola Farms and Cajot Farms, Agricincome, Greenfield Farms, TaroAgric, Kolade Concept, OAU T&R Farms, Agrodave global and Fadace Investment.
The members pledged to develop and present a paper on a local strategy to develop rural farming and encourage youth participation in agribusiness in Osun state.