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Farming is Hard and Boring. What's the way forward?

Sieving maggots from poultry waste to feed catfish in our ponds was a major skill I was good at while growing up.

Ew! Gross right? That was one of my experience as the son of a smallholder farmer growing up. While in High school, I must visit the farm on a daily basis to perform this routine before heading back home.

This is a bit of my story and alot of the other smallholder farmers children in Africa. What these kids experience growing up with their parents makes agriculture the last career path they want to pursue no matter how much more you want to refine it or wrap it up in gold to sell the idea to them. The positive side to my story is actually rewarding, and I owe my present status and my entrepreneurial pursuits to my early days working on my parents’ farm. Call me the son of a smallholder farmer, am proud to be one!

Have you ever tried to watch kids less than 15 years of age and ask them what they will like to become? You will hardly find 1 out of 100 that wants to become a farmer or anything related to it. Agriculture has been plagued over the years and there is a need to re-christen and redefine this age long occupation as a business.

Innovation brings new hopes.

innovation /noun/: the action or process of innovating.

Innovation means different things to different people. Innovation in business according to the Business Dictionary means "The process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay.

To be called an innovation, an idea must be replicable at an economical cost and must satisfy a specific need. Innovation involves deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative in deriving greater or different values from resources, and includes all processes by which new ideas are generated and converted into useful products. In business, innovation often results when ideas are applied by the company in order to further satisfy the needs and expectations of the customers...."

This is what is needed in farming,  new methods to attract the young generation to start and see farm business differently. This can only be achieved if there is an enabling environment that encourage mechanized systems of farming and making use of new technologies to reduce bureaucracy for farmers to access basic farm inputs, bringing farmers together in clusters to form cooperatives with proper channels to sell their products with a profitable margin.

The Government has to provide policies that will favor the farm enterprise and support systems that will encourage farmers go to farm having the assurance that there is an available market to sell their produce. Agricultural research should be responsive to farmers needs towards sustainable development by using innovation to develop, validate and transfer appropriate demand-driven agricultural technologies which are environmentally friendly, affordable and adaptable through effective agricultural system.

I am personally passionate about this and with my team at AgroInfoTech Africa; we are taking a lead role. We recently established Nigeria’s first Agribusiness Innovation Center- Agro Innovation Hub, in collaboration with the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training IAR&T, Obafemi Awolowo University, Moor Plantation Ibadan, a foremost institute of agricultural research known for different agricultural research breakthroughs and their responsiveness to farmers’ needs towards sustainable development in Nigeria and beyond.

At Agro Innovation Hub, we are creating a community where stakeholders across the agricultural value chain can make use of new technologies to add value to their businesses with special focus on engaging the youths to participate in agribusiness. We actively use the web and social media channels to encourage youths to get involved and we identify with the GCARD3 Global Event, based on the five key themes, from Scaling up from research to impact; Sustaining the business of farming, and Ensuring better rural futures. I look forward to learn, contribute and network with others at the event and explore the available opportunities that will benefit Nigerian youths and the agribusiness industry.

The old ways of farming is hard and boring, but innovation and a redefined agricultural model as a business across the value chain is the way forward. Welcome to the new world of innovative Agribusiness!

Oluwajoba Ayo' OKEDIJI is an agro entrepreneur. He is a Nigerian and the founder of AgroInfoTech Africa, an organization adding value to agriculture using Information and Communications Technology. He is the Pioneer of Nigeria's first Agribusiness Innovation Centre, Agro Innovation Hub, a platform developing innovative solutions to add value to agriculture, using new technologies to promote agricultural research, innovation and entrepreneurship. He presently operates and based in Nigeria.

Picture: Professor James Adediran, (left) The Executive Director, IAR&T, OAU, Moor Plantation Ibadan with Mr. Oluwajoba Ayo' Okediji, (right) Founder, AgroInfoTech Africa at the MoU signing to establish Nigeria's first Agribusiness Innovation Center, Agro Innovation Hub.
Picture Credit: AgroInfoTech Africa

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