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Harnessing opportunities in crop value chains for increased productivity

It was on a sunny Saturday on 2nd November 2019 when a group of 30 young agribusiness actors and farmers gathered under the auspices of Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) Nigeria in Ibadan to host a café themed “Agricultural Crop Value Chain: The role of the Entrepreneur”.

The YPARD café provided a platform for members of the YPARD network to interact, connect and share valuable lessons to equip participants to become effective and informed agro-professionals. The avenue also encouraged feedback mechanism on how to grow YPARD Nigeria while young agricultural professionals who were panelists shared their success stories, networked with other youths and formed bonds on how to leverage opportunities to promote agribusiness growth in Nigeria.

The panel session was moderated by YPARD Oyo local representative, Showemimo Akinbowale then proceeded to introduce the theme of the event and explain fully the concept of the value chain. He said, "The basic characteristic of a value chain is market-focused collaboration; where different business enterprises and people working together to produce and market products and services effectively and efficiently by allowing businesses to respond to the marketplace through linking production, processing, logistics, service provision and marketing activities to meet market demands".

Akinbowale then introduced the speakers at the panel session which were; Mr. Mark Oluwafemi CEO, Markfem farms; Mr. Gbenga Owoeye, who is Operations Director at GOMADE Agro-allied and Miss Atinuke Lebile, Co-founder CATO foods. When asked to share highlights of their entrepreneurial journey and key lessons for the new generation youths, the panelists had this to say.

The first speaker Mr. Mark Oluwafemi CEO, Markfem farms a Vegetable farmer and Irrigation Expert shared his Start-up story and how youths can leverage their passion and network to start a career in agriculture. He further highlighted how some vegetables can be cared for from site preparation to harvesting, he stressed on the unexplored opportunities for youths in the cucumber value chain specifically highlighting strategic positioning of resale fruit stores to maximise the demand for fruits by the health industry.
The Second speaker Mr. Gbenga Owoeye, Operations Director at GOMADE Agro-allied Ltd, a Yam farmer and processor also shared his start-up story, he highlighted the Yam value chains along and how youths can leverage on this. A profound thought he shared was how any youth interested in venturing into a sector can draw up a list of all the combination of activities that combine to place a crop on the shelve and highlight that role which best suits him. He explained that everyone is not meant to be on the farm. He urged the participant to seek knowledge because agriculture is more than putting a seed into the ground. He also stressed that youths should have a financial backup before venturing into Agriculture.

The third and final Speaker Miss Atinuke Lebile who is the Co-founder of Cato foods and also the YPARD Nigeria Program, Membership & Mobilization officer highlighted the value chains in cassava. She further stated some problems encountered by youths in agribusiness and how they can tackle these problems. She urged the youths to embrace collaborations among themselves to further strengthen food security in Africa.

crop value Chain can be defined as a strategic partnership among inter-dependent businesses that collaborate to progressively create value for the final consumer resulting in a collective competitive advantage in the agricultural markets. The basic characteristic of a value chain is market-focused collaboration; different business enterprises working together to produce and market products and services effectively and efficiently by allowing businesses to respond to the marketplace through linking production, processing and marketing activities to meet market demands. Agric-food Value Chains are designed to increase competitive advantage through collaboration in a venture that links producers, processors, marketers, food service companies, retailers and supporting groups such as shippers, research groups and suppliers.

Agriculture as an enterprise is going through rapid transition both locally and globally. It is assuming new shape and scope and no more the ordinary cultivation of crops and rearing of animals or an enterprise for the rural people. The concept of agripreneurship is the combination of agriculture and entrepreneurship. Agripreneurship is the option to adopt in the quest to make agriculture an enterprise of appeal in contemporary business engagements. If agriculture must transit from its status which is largely subsistent to a competitive enterprise in the assessment of entrepreneurs, incorporation of business concepts in handling issues of agriculture is the way to go. The YPARD café focussed on using agribusiness to boost job creation for youths, increase productivity and the income bases of farmers. This was considered because a significant number of Nigeria’s population are engaged in agriculture and the development of agribusiness and agripreneurship will go a long way in curtailing unemployment that is prevalent in the economy, ensure food security and grow the economy. However, the speakers noted that this option is faced with various constraints and limitations in the area of experience, access to credit and infrastructure among others. Agripreneurship can contribute to social and economic development, reduction in poverty index ensures good nutrition and food security. Also, it will lead to diversifying the economy and income bases, providing employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.

YPARD NigeriaThe transition may not pose serious problems if agribusinesses are positioned to take up the challenge and compete favourably. With the rise in youth unemployment and poverty in Nigeria and limited economic growth options in other sectors, there is a need to develop entrepreneurship in agriculture to create jobs, raise productivity and grow the economy since for now, agriculture employs the highest amount of labour in the country and sustainable opportunities outside agriculture are limited. The application and practice of entrepreneurship in agriculture will generate a wide range of benefits such as increased productivity, development of new agribusiness ventures that will lead to job creation, innovations in products and service delivery, and increases in wealth. Agripreneurship can contribute to social and economic development in the areas of reduction in poverty index, this will improve good nutrition and food security in the economy. Besides, it will lead to diversifying the economy and income bases, providing employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for Nigerians.

Photo credit: Showemimo Akinbowale

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