On the 15th of May 2012, I and a friend decided to see and observe the activities of the All Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (AFAN) Ondo State Chapter. We went out of keen interest to associate with other farmers and see how the association can come up tosensitize the youth more about agriculture.
Maybe before I share what I experienced, I tell you a brief about AFAN. AFAN is an association for farmers in Nigeria. It is made-up of what is referred to as commodity associations. The commodity associations are based on the commodity a farmer produces. The commodity could be maize, cassava poultry, oil palm, snails etc. Thus under the AFAN you have members of commodity associations such as Snail Farmers’ Association, Poultry Farmers’ Association to mention a few. These commodity associations meet in groups at agreed dates. However, once a month they all come together under the AFAN umbrella to discuss matters related to the progress of the farmers.
With this background in mind, the meeting had a total of 30 farmers in attendance with 8 been women. One interesting fact I observed was that the meeting was conducted in the local dialect (Yoruba) and this was because of the presence of mostly rural farmers. It is sad though to note that only five out of all of us in attendance were youths. Others were old farmers who were well along in age.
I noted the following during their deliberations:
There was low turn up of the farmers to the meeting
The farmers only show-up when matters related to fund allocation from the government are discussed
The Bank of Agriculture was slow in processing of loans for the farmers and even when the loans were given they got them at very high interest rate
Civil servants who are not farmers have hijacked loan schemes by the state government in the name of having the requirement for the loans
The poultry farmers were presently facing the problem of ‘egg gloat’ which has brought business to a halt for them
Despite all these, the farmers I noticed are not losing hope, but are persistent. The President of the association encouraged networking and partnership with one another and try their hands on loans as a group rather than as individuals. Those present were given information that would prove helpful for them such as:
The Agric Credit Scheme by the Apex Bank, Central Bank of Nigeria that had just kicked off
The list of crops and livestock that would have focus as announced by the Federal Government. They included maize, cotton, cattle, wheat, cassava, poultry etc
The guaranteed price list released by the government was also read out to the farmers.
I had the privilege of speaking and I expressed my desire to gain experience from the older farmers but that there was need for them to also work to sensitize young people on the need to actively engage in agriculture despite the challenges that come with it.
It was agreed there and then that this would be incorporated in their radio program in the weeks to come and that a capacity building program would be planned for young people in the state. This gladdened my heart and I cannot wait to be part of the hands that would bring change to agriculture by bringing on board other young people in the near future.