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WHY ME: Getting Youth to Own Agriculture

Ogunbowale in YABA, Lagos, Nigeria

“While the world was mourning the crash of crude oil price, the worth of Cocoa rose by 100% and practically no one took note!” – HIM Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi, the Ooni of Ife (Feb 7, 2016)

“Sir, what exactly do you do for a living?” the young secondary school boy eagerly asked.

“Oh, I am fully into the best, I mean Oil business” replied the well dressed man who just donated an Agric laboratory to Kasapo Community Secondary School where John, the inquisitive boy attends.

Mr Adams, noting the boys state of confusion in trying to reconcile the fact that someone who was introduced as a farmer to the students earlier, now being ‘fully’ an oil magnate and then he his financial buoyancy to donate an Agric laboratory… he quickly added to further enlighten the young mind; “I manage a 20 acre Oil palm plantation with a mechanised processing factory on site”, “ooook, I see now” said John with eyes sparkling.

John is the best student in his school, he had straight A’s in his Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination (JSSCE) and hence, was quickly drafted to Science class for his senior school, his class teacher told him he would make a good medical doctor. However, all what John desired was simply to make enough money to carter for his impoverished subsistence agrarian family. He loved going to farm daily but would rather move to the city to seek greener pastures.

Mr Adams took his time to explain the immense benefit of doing Agric on a large scale and by the end of their hour long discuss, John was well convinced that his agrarian background was no limitation rather an asset and Agric was the way.

The 21st century youth is thus far the best equipped for success in Agriculture and other disciplines. However, it is an irony why the average youth lacks will and requisite desire to go into agriculture. It is quite obvious that governments in most sub-Saharan countries do not have motivators that can encourage their teeming youth population to utilise their strengths in ensuring constant food security for the respective nations and even produce enough for export.

A major weapon of this generation of youth, is the social media. The numerous social media platforms presents themselves as highly viable real-time connectors and networking media between billions of people all over the world. This affords every young farmer to farm locally and also compare notes with farmers in the same line of agriculture as well as interact with experts from anywhere in the world1.

With 200 million people aged between 15 and 24, Africa has the required population of youths to drive a revolution in any sector2. It is therefore imperative that every youth be well educated as to why they are the ones needed on the farms. Why me? I’d say if not you, then who? The energy, network, mental capacity and creativity of the average youth is arguably the best qualifiers for doing agric.

Looking back now to my experience as a 15 year old placed in charge of a fully stocked 5,000 capacity earthen fish pond way back in 2001, I cannot appreciate my father enough for exposing me to such massive Agric platform. I ended up gaining admission into the University to study Soil Science and Land Resources Management (B.Agric) and I can conveniently say that 400 level farm year was a leisure stroll for me.

Aside the experience I garnered from managing the fishery business right from stocking of fingerlings to cropping of the 1kg average weight fishes, I learnt basic fundamental Agric farm practices which till date is a major source of income for me.

I have since been involved in the civil society and via this medium, addressed tens of thousands of youth directly and directly on core thematic areas ranging from Leadership, entrepreneurship, governance and Agric especially via my network on the organisation I lead; Change Nigeria Alliance.

Social media is here to stay (at least till the next big thing), the youth of today is the champion on all the platforms and one can only advocate that these numerous platforms be adequately utilised for enhancing Agric production. There is therefore a strong need to engage the youth and ignite their interest in various forms of agriculture with social media tools as they are always on these platforms3.

Our world is what we make it

 

1: PDF: Guide to Social Media- Alberta Agriculture: www.1.agric.gov.ab.ca/%/24department/...

2 Africa’s Youth: a “ticking bomb” or an opportunity: www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/m...

3 Sparking up Youth Involvenment in Agriculture with Social Media: www.kalusam.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/sparking-up-youth-involvement-in-ag...

This blog post is part of the GCARD3 Youth blogpost applications. The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.