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YPARD Nigeria Café: Youth engagement in agribusiness post COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a global food emergency that could have long-term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults. The soaring high prices of food and unavailability of our staple food here in Africa is a nightmare.

This is due mostly to a lack of access to food – as incomes fall, remittances are lost, and in some contexts, food prices rise. In countries already affected by high levels of acute food insecurity, it is no longer a food access issue alone, but increasingly a food production issue. It is in the light of the above that YPARD Nigeria launched a café that is aimed at encouraging youths to go into agriculture in order to fill the vacuum created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The café took place on the 9th December 2020 with 41 participants in attendance. The floor was opened by the Abia State YPARD Representative, Joseph Ikechukwu Jude. Joseph is also a Consultant, Animal Physiologist & the CEO of JIJNAALS Livestock Company Nig. Ltd. He spoke on: The Role of YPARD in Promoting Agriculture among Youth

Mr. Jude explained that YPARD is an international movement by Young Professionals for Agricultural Development. YPARD operates as a network; it is not a formalized institution. This global on-line and off-line communication and discussion platform is meant to enable and empower young agricultural leaders around the world to shape sustainable food systems. He explained the vision, mission and strategic aims of YPARD which is all geared towards promoting agriculture among youths. He further listed different aspects of agriculture that are essential and brings returns on investment (ROI) in record time.

The second panellist, Dr. Joshua Ibewuike (an animal nutritionist and an aquaculture specialist) spoke on: The Economic Benefits of Fish Farming For Youth

Highlights of the economic benefits of fish farming

  • Fish farming is one of the fastest-growing food production sectors in the world
  • Fish and fish products have huge and increasing demand throughout the globe.
  • Market demand and the price are always high for fish and fish related products.
  • Fish farming plays an important role in the economy, providing thousands of jobs in operations and ancillary services.
  • Different several types of fast-growing fish species are available. Farming those fast-growing fish species ensure rapid returns of your investment.
  • People with other occupation or job can also start this business.
  • Bank loan and funding assistance are also available on the fish farming project.

Cost calculation of fish farming

He said that two types of capital investment broadly include in this farming business. One is capital cost and the other is operating cost. Capital cost includes land & building, crafting ponds, vehicles for transport, plumbing arrangements, several tanks, oxygen meters etc.

Operating cost includes purchasing fingerlings, fish feed, electricity, fuel, labour, chemical, medicine, transportation and other maintenance cost involved.

Before getting into the business, carefully prepare detailed cost calculation of your proposed fish related farming project. Calculations will be different as per the types of fish you are choosing for fish farming. And also according to your desired output and total land area.

Factors to be considered in fish farming

Dr. Joshua said that Fish farming requires specialized knowledge skill and careful consideration. The factors to be considered include but not restricted to;

  • Market size: In Nigeria and beyond many people use fish and fish products as food and raw material. The demand for fish will always be there.
  • Landscape: The land is a critical factor in agricultural production and fish farming is not an exception in this instance. The land, soil quality and topography, its location must be objectively considered
  • Water supply: Water is to fish what soil is to crop or the environment to man. The water quality, temperature, source, pH value and level of dissolved oxygen are very important since fish are very sensitive to chemicals and can never live anywhere else than water.
  • Financial capacity: Every investment requires capital so also is fish farming. The investor can access a loan, save, or even start with the little amount available and progressively grow with time and success.
  • Interest and passion: This is an intangible aspect and factor that is the most fundamental in investment. It is the only single characteristic that keeps an entrepreneur going when other factors are not working.
  • Training and skills: Farming requires technical and managerial skills. Having a fair knowledge in the following areas will help the farmer a great deal, soil and water quality, aquatic weed, parasite and disease control, fish nutrition and feed, cultural techniques. These can be acquired informally through understudying another farmer or formally. Besides, the farmer can engage the services of experts.

Creating economic sustainability through apiculture

Mr. Ugoala Nnamdi, an environmental scientist, a seasoned apiculturist and the CEO of Theonas Agric Consult Ltd was one of the speakers. He spoke on: The value of beekeeping in creating economic sustainability post COVID-19

Mr. Nnamdi explained that honey is a pleasant-tasting food and a sweetener for food and drinks as well as an effective medicine for treating superficial wounds and throat complaints. Its economic value is high and hence it is a good trade commodity. In many countries, honey is used to make beer or wine, which can be healthy if not consumed in too large a quantity, and it can be preserved and sold. In 2002 world honey exports totalled 1,250,000 tonnes, 20% of which came from the tropics. About 700,000 tonnes were sold and exported to countries where local production was insufficient to meet demands. Prices vary, but on the world market, the price is between USD 1.00 and USD 2.00 per kg. Local prices are, however, usually much higher, sometimes even up to 10 times world market prices.

The honey yield largely depends on the climate, vegetation, bee species and the skills of the beekeeper. Bearing these factors in mind and considering their income and skills, beekeepers may choose from the following possibilities:

  • Having a few colonies around the house or somewhere else at a fixed place
  • Migrating seasonally with the colonies to different forage areas
  • Keeping bees as a part-time activity
  • Full-time professional beekeeping

Whatever the chosen scale, a beekeeper will be busier at certain times of the year with preventing swarming, collecting the honey and feeding the colonies, for instance.

At the end of the panel discussions, questions were welcomed from the audience. Many in the audience were shown the registration process to become YPARD Members. The state representative came up and answered the questions and also collected the contact details of the participants for follow-up and partnerships.

YPARD Nigeria members were given the opportunity to exhibit their agricultural products at the café. This provided an avenue for marketing, networking and learning.

Photo credit: Joseph, Ikechukwu Jude