Africa is a net importer of food, spending more than $20 billion each year on food imports. As the African population continues to grow and urbanize at a fast rate, African agriculture and related value chains will be required to grow and evolve quickly. Addressing these problems calls for various initiatives; spanning macro-economic policy, improvements and access to technologies that can catalyse adequate food production.
Some technological applications such as mobile phones, internet and radio can potentially help farmers raise agricultural yields; reduce excessive use of pesticides and other agro-chemical inputs; increase the nutrient value of basic foods; and contribute to the development of elite livestock breeds and crop varieties adapted to tolerate drought, salinity and low soil nutrients.
Young people as future leaders in any economy, need support and mentoring in order to address the mounting challenges in the agricultural sector; which requires in-depth understanding of the challenges they face and the role they must fill. The Youth are a vital resource that should be supported and youthful energy should be channelled towards the development of the continent through improved agricultural practice. In most African countries, we have seen youths who now take to agriculture, especially livestock as a source of livelihood.
Young professionals for agricultural development (YPARD), which is a global on-line and off-line communication and discussion platform, has motivated and enabled youths around the world to express their ideas, take advantage of various opportunities in agriculture to learn and improve themselves.
Livestock are domesticated animals raised in a setting to produce commodities such as food, fibre and labor. Livestock are generally raised for profit. Raising animals (animal husbandry) is a component of modern agriculture. It has been practiced in many cultures since the transition to farming from hunter-gather lifestyle. Livestock is any breed or population of animal kept by humans for a useful, commercial purpose. This could be domestic animals, semi-domestic animals, or captive wild animals.
Adamu Bagudu and Monday ishaku, youths from Kaduna
Adamu Bagudu and Monday ishaku are youths from Kaduna state, Northern Nigeria. They are both graduates from Nigerian Universities. Many years after graduating with no job and a source of livelihood; they both decided to go into agriculture in 2010. Because they are from the Northern part of Nigeria, which is a good environment for rearing cattle, cows, etc, they chose livestock as a career. They were able to raise money from friends and family members and started-off with two cattle- male and female. This is so because to access funds for this kind of venture in Nigeria is a bit difficult. Considering also, the negative perception people have towards agriculture as a low income sector.
But two years after starting the business, they had more cattle and also included pigs and cows. In October 2013, their livestock business has expanded with close to a thousand livestock in their chain. Today these two young Nigerians are successful, proud and have no regrets for venturing into livestock.
Christopher Mulindwa, Pig productions production,from Uganda
Christopher Mulindwa, from Uganda is a manager of a Pig production company in Uganda. He had an idea to create a source of income for himself after leaving the university, which was pig- keeping. The grandmother gave him a piece of land and assisted him with money to buy 7 pigs. The capital was not enough to support the feeds, health services etc. They did not grow at the speed expected; he decided to plant maize by himself so he could support the pigs. He did this for a while till he was able to get enough money to buy feeds for the pigs and expanded his business. But this was without some challenges like low price for pigs from traders.
He set up a farmers group, initially he found it difficult to find people to join him as he was considered too young by some farmers; but found some ladies who were willing to join him to sell together. He then had the idea to start-up a pig trading company but had limited capital to do so. He talked to many people but not many willing. Then found a friend to work with. In 2010 he started buying pigs from farmers in the group and became a trader. He was able to provide other services to farmers such as link them to breeders, input suppliers, animal health services or buy inputs from Kampala to sell to farmers.
AfricaConnect (online platform), social networks including Facebook and Twitter have been the base for marketing the products. He shared his experience with us at the Livestock and fish agrifood value chain conference organized by ILRI in Kampala, 2013.
Picture credit: Sias van Schalkwyk, African Warthog - (Not a Bush-pig) various close ups of head , Tusks & Eye