Nigeria: Farmagric Enriching Youths, Farmers in West Africa

By Dailypost.ng (Wale Odunsi)

Farmagric is a subscriber focused Agricultural company that empowers farmers by providing them with the required capital and inputs using funds raised from the investing public. Farmagric is making ground breaking moves in the Agri-tech world by building capacity of rural farmers, providing funds for smallholder farmers and also creating investment opportunities for the public.

Farmagric was founded in 2018. The company started out as EME Fertilizers and Chemicals (which has existed since 2016) – supplying fertilizers, chemicals and other crop/soil enhancing solutions to Governments and Commercial farms. In the course of providing this service, they observed that one of the prevalent issues in commercial farming is finance and the application of the right technology.

Africa and Nigeria is a farm lover’s dream; abundant uncultivated arable land which is roughly over half the global total, tropical climates that permit long growing seasons, a young labor force and an expanding population that provides a readily available market for produce consumption. We as a country are yet to harness these opportunities to ensure sustainable food security and food production.

The average age of farmers is about 60 years, in a continent where 60% of the population is under 24 years of age. Farmers are also less educated, with younger and more educated Africans leaving rural areas where farms are located and moving to cities. It is common knowledge that small holder farmers in Nigeria are inundated with a myriad of challenges, some of which include high costs of doing business, difficulties in accessing credit, and so on, access to finance still remains the biggest of these issues. Reason being – people see these farmers but feel they are not bankable, therefore, they remain wary of this business group due to the difficulty in assessing and managing the risks associated with credit.

At Farmagric, it was found that there exists a large number of farmers who have vast arable land but lack the financial strength to cultivate the lands and on the other hand, there exists a lot of Nigerians who are looking out for legitimate investment opportunities with good returns. Therefore, they decided to be a bridge between the two by making it easy and safe for investors to put in their funds into agriculture. These funds are then made available to train farmers and equip them with the right tools and inputs. The funds are raised to carry out the farming. After the farming cycle, the produce is then sold to off-takers and the profits are shared with their Investors.

With Farmagric, investors can earn as much as 30% return on investments per cycle which typically run for 6 – 10 months depending on crop/livestock type. Their model has a two-pronged effect as it avails farmers access to the much needed funding and offers investors good returns. It is understood by the Company that subscribers may be hesitant to invest because they may need their funds before the maturation of their investments, to address this, Farmagric forged a strategic alliance with FINT, a peer-to-peer loan market place, to offer their Subscribers access to loans up to 50% of the amount invested without collateral.

In order to educate farmers who may otherwise not have access to such, Farmagric organized a training for farmers from different locations in Abuja through the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) office. The training was focused on exposing them to modern ways of farming maize and soybean in order to attain maximum yield starting from land preparation, seed selection, seed dressing, herbicide and fertilizer application, pest control, harvesting and storage. After this training, some farmers who previously only farmed rice decided to try out soybean using the new method learned.

Farmagric is set to also launch its Foundation Programme for agriculture soon, this Foundation will be used for Trainings. Youths interested in agriculture are discouraged by the difficulties in accessing funds or land, reliance on manual technology in smallholder agriculture, all compounded by the low and volatile profits. Focused on encouraging youth participation in agriculture, Farmagric is set to launch their Youth Incubation Programme through the Farmagric Foundation in partnership with an international organization.

The Agricultural Skills Acquisition Programme (ASAP) aims to empower about 500 Nigerian youths aged 18 – 35 through theoretical and practical agricultural trainings in order to create income while generating employment opportunities and ventures.

Farmagric has a team of experienced Agronomists, Researchers, Consultants and Tech developers, who combine their efforts to see that the objectives of the company are achieved. They continuously conduct researches on different agricultural products and liaise with farmers to determine the right crops and seasons to farm. Farmagric is also interested in and are working on partnerships with people in the different sectors of the Agribusiness value chain in order to achieve the set out goal – to sustain agriculture profitably.

Farmagric has affected over 2000 farmers positively, with over 500 farm investors and over 7000 followers on social media. With continuous growth in the agricultural sector of the country, Farmagric is working hand in hand with investors and farmers to improve the food production capacity in the country and achieving sustainable growth in agriculture, which will in turn improve the Nigerian economy.

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Cameroon: 15 Young farmers and entrepreneurs receive distinctions in Ngaoundere

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Cavayé Yeguié Djibril has launched the 6th Caravan to promote farming among Youths .

He launched the event this 2nd April 2019 accompanied by two Ministers ; Mbairobe Gabriel Agriculture and Dr Taiga of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry.

The event saw 15 best young farmers and entrepreneurs decorated with Knight of Merit for Agriculture and the Cameroon Knight of Merit by Hon. Cavayé Yeguié Djibril on the instructions of President Paul Biya.

The fifteen youths are made up of

# five young farmers

#five breeders

#five entrepreneurs.

The head of the Youth Parliamentary Network, Gaston Komba donated farm inputs and equipment to the young farmers drawn from the twenty-one divisions of the Adamawa region.

Also during the ceremony, Ministers Mbairobe Gabriel and Dr Taiga handed end-of-course certificates to some young farmers and entrepreneurs, who were trained by the Youth Parliamentary Network.

Addressing the Youth, the House Speaker stressed on government’s determination to encourage an on-the-spot transformation of lo cally produced goods.

He challenged other youths to be inspired by the success stories of the fifteen honored this day.

Administrative authorities expressed gratitude to Parliament for the innitiative to curb unemployment among youths in the region.

Hon. Cavayé Yeguié Djibril and the delegation round up their three Day working visit on Wednesday 3rd April 2019.

The Youth Parliamentary Network led the Caravan to the Adamawa to boost the regio n’s agro-pastoral potential.

Source Crtv

Kenya: Youth Shun Agriculture as Food Scarcity Bites

By FAITH NYASUGUTA

Agriculture has recently been associated with the poor, the tired and the old as most youths shy away from farming. However, there are millennials in agriculture full time and part-time.

“Agriculture is a lifestyle for me. I rear chicken, cows and grow maize in Kitale,” a Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology’s IT student Daniel Ondieki said. When away from home, Daniel leaves his mother in charge. She sends him the profit for his upkeep.

“The Agriculture sector presents a huge opportunity for creation of employment to absorb the youth and ensure achievement of food security for future generations,” Kenya Youth Agribusiness Strategy 2017 -2021 report by the Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries said.

Isaac Cheruiyot, a journalism student also at JKUAT said he rears about 400 chicken back at his Eldoret home. He makes at least Sh2,500 every day from sale of eggs, hence he does not ask for money from his mother.

A survey by job website Brighter Monday dubbed Millennials and the Digital Marketplace, that was published earlier this year reveals that the youth still prefer traditional corporate sector careers.

In the survey, 47 per cent say that NGOs present the best working conditions followed by banking, finance, and insurance at 15 per cent.

The strategy 2017-2021 report said that decreasing numbers of young people involved in farming as an occupation or business is a national signal of distress in the agricultural sector. This is already negatively impacting on the economy.

University students’ enrolment in agriculture, forestry and fisheries courses is at about three per cent according to a survey conducted by Kenya national qualification authority(KNQA). Agriculture, however, can be practiced outside career lanes.

“I am not pursuing an agricultural course but I try a little kitchen gardening. The money I would spend buying food is now in my savings account,” Brian Orandi, a statistics student told this writer.

According to the report, the situation is exacerbated by the perception of agriculture as a career of last resort, one of drudgery and low monetary benefits. Information on access to markets, factors of production including land and financing remain extremely limited hindering adequate engagement of the youth in agriculture.

“When I was growing up, my parents warned me that if I did not work hard I would end up being a farmer. I just noticed that agriculture brings lots of returns, it is no longer for the poor, the illiterate and the old,” Mboya Victor said.

Immense digitization of the agricultural sector will attract millennials as technology is the bait. Introduction of new technologies will increase production in the sector as the youth will develop interest.

Brighter Monday report further said millennials are digital natives and the most connected generation so they value up to date technology.

Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Organization ICT director Boniface Akuku said the agricultural sector is between a rock and a hard place. The challenges in the sector today can only be addressed by IT.

Millenials and the digital market place showed that 98 per cent of the youth concurred up to date softwares are important for their productivity.

The agriculture sector presents a huge opportunity for the creation of employment to absorb the youth and ensure achievement of food security for future generations.

The Star

South Africa: Youth employability a key issue for agri sector

The agriculture sector – which employs just under 1 million people in South Africa according to StatsSA – is crying out for a solution to its youth employability challenge.

This was one of the key takeaways from the Youth Employment Service (YES) participation at the recent CGA Citrus Summit held in Port Elizabeth.

“Lack of viable and sustainable youth employability solutions was a clear issue for all stakeholders,” says Lara Grieve, YES business development manager.

Grieve added: “What was clear from the event was that the agriculture sector is looking for ways to bring a more collaborative approach to the unemployment challenge, bringing government and the commercial players in the agriculture sector together.”

Borne out of the CEO Initiative, YES has become one of the highest impact programs in SA, creating on average nearly 700 work opportunities each week in its first five months.

These opportunities provide unemployed black youth (18 – 35 years old), the chance to access the workforce, gain valuable skills and earn a basic wage. Furthermore, these YES youth are equipped with smartphone devices to learn valuable skills including work readiness, health and safety, financial wellness and more through the YES application. YES also enjoys a strategic partnership with LinkedIn. This means that YES youth can access one of the largest professional networks in the world, and build CVs and references that put them in front of potential future employers.

A further benefit of YES is that it offers attractive benefits to businesses looking to improve their Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) scorecard rating. Qualifying businesses can improve their B-BBEE rating by either 1 or 2 levels by employing and absorbing YES youth, in line with the Practice Note issued in October 2018.

“Agriculture is an important sector for the South African economy,” says YES chief executive Tashmia Ismail-Saville, who points out that there is an over-concentration of youth looking for work opportunities in Gauteng, but finding themselves competing with highly-skilled people for entry-level jobs.

Ismail-Saville says that South Africa would benefit from a decentralized workforce where jobs are created in developing parts of the economy. “By creating employment in the agriculture sector, salaries and skills are retained in these regions, contributing to economic development. If we create 1,000 entry-level jobs in a region such as Limpopo or Nelspruit, we add R42m to the local economy.”

Source Farmers Review Africa

Zimbabwe: Let’s make farming attractive to youths

By Sheuneni Kurasha

I welcome you dear reader to this inaugural installment of our weekly column, Farmer’s Diary.

We will be exploring all things farming.

The purpose is to share knowledge and exchange experiences on farming and help each other to be more efficient and productive farmers.

After all, “kugara nhaka kuona dzevamwe” (we become better by observing how others do things).

When I decided to go into commercial farming as a young professional, seven years back, I did not just have the task of convincing my spouse that I was going into a noble business.

I equally had to face a barrage of questions from many of my friends and colleagues who were sceptical if I had made the right decision to consider farming as a business.

Seven years on, my wife has not only supported me, but has also joined in and brought in new perspectives inspired by her engineering background.

This is a story for another day.

It occurred to me that farming was not so “cool” for many of my friends in the late twenties and early forties.

I vividly recall one friend quipping that, “We are really getting old, even one of us is now a farmer.”

It is not surprising that farming either as a career option or business is not a popular option among the youth.

After all, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the global average age of farmers is 60-years-old.

This means there are simply not enough young successful farmers to look up to. Farming is typically viewed as a rural venture for old people and one where people go into it as a last resort and often on a subsistence basis.

This brings me to my next point.

In the last seven years, I have been into commercial farming, specialising in pedigree livestock breeding, particularly boran cattle, boer goats and damara sheep, I have witnessed a growing interest among young people aged between 30 and 40 years in venturing into commercial farming.

I now spend hours on end responding to inquiries on our farming Facebook Page, on how young people can break the barriers and go into farming.

We need to realise that if Zimbabwe is ever to address the perennial food-related challenges such as food insecurity, malnutrition, and increasing food prices, in a sustainable manner, there is urgent need to make sure that more and younger people are incentivised to go into farming and remain there.

In my view, the primary duty to ensure that young people are attracted to farming lies with the Government.

There should be immediate and deliberate policy measures and specific programme interventions aimed at making young people view farming as viable and a fashionable career and business option.

This is more imperative considering that Zimbabwe, just like other African countries, has over 60 percent of its whole population below 24-years-old.

In addition, families are also centres of nurturing future farmers and luring them to take farming as a career and business option from an early age.

Hence the saying: farmers beget farmers.

make farming attractive to youths
Let’s make farming attractive to youths
Sheuneni Kurasha
I welcome you dear reader to this inaugural installment of our weekly column, Farmer’s Diary.

We will be exploring all things farming.

The purpose is to share knowledge and exchange experiences on farming and help each other to be more efficient and productive farmers.

After all, “kugara nhaka kuona dzevamwe” (we become better by observing how others do things).

When I decided to go into commercial farming as a young professional, seven years back, I did not just have the task of convincing my spouse that I was going into a noble business.

I equally had to face a barrage of questions from many of my friends and colleagues who were sceptical if I had made the right decision to consider farming as a business.

Seven years on, my wife has not only supported me, but has also joined in and brought in new perspectives inspired by her engineering background.

This is a story for another day.

It occurred to me that farming was not so “cool” for many of my friends in the late twenties and early forties.

I vividly recall one friend quipping that, “We are really getting old, even one of us is now a farmer.”

It is not surprising that farming either as a career option or business is not a popular option among the youth.

After all, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the global average age of farmers is 60-years-old.

This means there are simply not enough young successful farmers to look up to. Farming is typically viewed as a rural venture for old people and one where people go into it as a last resort and often on a subsistence basis.

This brings me to my next point.

In the last seven years, I have been into commercial farming, specialising in pedigree livestock breeding, particularly boran cattle, boer goats and damara sheep, I have witnessed a growing interest among young people aged between 30 and 40 years in venturing into commercial farming.

I now spend hours on end responding to inquiries on our farming Facebook Page, on how young people can break the barriers and go into farming.

We need to realise that if Zimbabwe is ever to address the perennial food-related challenges such as food insecurity, malnutrition, and increasing food prices, in a sustainable manner, there is urgent need to make sure that more and younger people are incentivised to go into farming and remain there.

In my view, the primary duty to ensure that young people are attracted to farming lies with the Government.

There should be immediate and deliberate policy measures and specific programme interventions aimed at making young people view farming as viable and a fashionable career and business option.

This is more imperative considering that Zimbabwe, just like other African countries, has over 60 percent of its whole population below 24-years-old.

In addition, families are also centres of nurturing future farmers and luring them to take farming as a career and business option from an early age.

Hence the saying: farmers beget farmers.

One of the major impediments for young people to go into commercial agriculture is cost and, thus, access to farming land. For Zimbabwe, the Land Reform Programme will have failed if it does not include a deliberate policy to promote access to land by young people.

One of the ways in which Zimbabwe and other African countries can harvest on the demographic dividend is through attracting young people into farming and supporting them to become successful farmers.

After all, young people can easily harness technological advancements, including social media tools to enhance their productivity and profitability.

Social media tools facilitate access to information and exchange information, including experiences and existing opportunities.

As the president of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina observed, the next generation of millionaires and billionaires in Africa will be farmers.

We need to get more young people into farming.

For feedback, kindly get in touch on email: kurashas@gmail.com

Source Sunday Mail

Developing Agriprenuers to Save Nigeria’s Youth from Crime

Featured photo credit: IPS

When Lawrence Afere told his parents he was going into farming rather than getting a job in Nigeria’s lucrative oil and gas sector, they swore he was bewitched.

“After saving to put me through the top university in Nigeria with an eye for a job in oil and gas, my parents had no explanation for my career choice. They were convinced I had been bewitched,” says the 35-year-old Afere who started a group that brings together unemployed youth to grow, sell and add value to agricultural produce in Nigeria.

Given the entrenched beliefs across Africa about sorcery, the idea that Afere was bewitched seemed a plausible one to his parents. In fact, Afere’s parents had it on the advice of a traditional herbalist that he was going to be rich. But his parents didn’t believe that he could ever become wealthy through agriculture.

Nigeria, a net food importer, has the double challenge of providing enough food and jobs for its bulging population, especially the youth. It spends 22 billion dollars in food imports, almost 60 percent of Africa’s 35 billion dollar annual food import bill, according to the African Development Bank.

The country is Africa’s largest producer and consumer of rice. However, it also one of the largest importers of the cereal in the world buying about two million tonnes annually to offset local consumption of five million tonnes against a production of three million tonnes.

The West African nation also has over 80 million hectares of good fertile soil to grow any kind of crop.

Afere had a solution: get the youth to start farming and to make agriculture a profitable and appetising career prospect for young people aged 15-24. This demographic makes up about 26 percent of 20.9 million unemployed Nigerians.

“I read an article that every year in Nigeria we will graduate one million young people with a high school qualification but with no prospects to go university,” said Afere.

“This is one million highly frustrated youth and by 2030 Nigeria will have over 30 million highly skilled – not doctors, not lawyers, farmers or entrepreneurs – but skilled criminals that could devour the entire country. At that moment I had mindset shift.” So he founded Springboard, a social enterprise growing organic produce through a social media network of farmers. It also aims to create jobs for women and youth in Nigeria.

To date, Springboard Nigeria has over 3,000 members in its network of organic farmers and village women entrepreneurs who grow plantain, banana, beans, rice, vegetables, pepper, cocoa, corn, pineapple and pawpaw. The agriprenuers also add value to the produce with emphasis on producing healthy food accessible to rural communities.

Fighting unemployment and malnutrition with food production

Springboard uses social media to raise awareness about opportunities in agriculture. It has over 5,000 followers on its Facebook page, which it uses to create a market and to supply produce to vendors and customers. This is how it brings together farmers and consumers.

“We also use it to provide continuous mentoring and extension services to our farmers, youth farmers especially,” Afere told IPS.

The social enterprise is currently developing a farmer’s helpline that will give farmers access to agricultural information via a toll-free number in four of Nigeria’s major languages.

Springboard has sought to stop young people emigrating from rural areas to urban centres in search of jobs, which are hard to get, Afere said.

“We know young people want to be successful and rich, the idea is how do we help them to be successful by identifying livelihood opportunities in the agriculture sector where they live,” said Afere.

Through the social enterprise, youth and women work across the agriculture value chain in production, processing, value addition, storage, distribution and marketing. They are trained in agriculture production and management and given inputs to kick start their own farming enterprises.

“Small scale farmers often make the hard choice of not consuming most of what they grow but sell it to pay for school fees and other needs and eat what is left. Their nutrition suffers and families are sick because they do not have healthy and quality food, our programme focuses on production and raising nutrition,” said Afere. “That way the youth and young women, see agriculture as having multiple benefits and not just providing them a job.”

Recently, the social enterprise started a Farm to School programme, which is supported by the Mitsubishi Foundation for Africa and Europe. Through the programme, Springboard partners with schools to establish school farms where students learn to grow their own food within their communities, thereby raising their interest agriculture.

“When we project farming as a viable economic opportunity for the youth, we also tell them that farming is a process, which comes with a lot of hard work,” he said. “I tell young people to start with what they have and bootstrapping themselves into business. Gradually customers, investors and donors take notice and support your farming business.”

So has he become wealthy? As his parents had pictured?

Afere laughs about it now. He is rich, he feels in other ways other than monetary. “I”m not wealthy with money in the bank. I’m wealthy in fulfilment of purpose. Helping farmers become prosperous and real youth and women start farm enterprises brings me fulfilment. In the process I am able to take care of my family and their basic needs. That is wealth for me.”

Technology transforming farming business

While Afere has combined the lure of technology and the economic prospects in agriculture, training and mentorship are important in fostering the adoption of farming as a business by young people.

One Nigerian technology hub is helping groom and support entrepreneurs tackle development challenges across Africa, but specifically in Nigeria.

“That agriculture, which employs most of our parents, does not provide [enough] money is something that worries a lot of young entrepreneurs,” says Wole Odetayo, executive director of Wennovation Hub.

Wennovation Hub is a pioneer technology accelerator and incubation programme that helps start-ups develop and validate their ideas and innovations using basic business tools in the social impact sectors in agriculture, healthcare, clean energy and social infrastructure.

“We are leveraging on their interests, ideas and background of young people to help them think through the process of making the most out of agriculture through technology to solve different challenges across the agriculture value chain,” Odetayo told IPS. He urged governments to support incubators and accelerators by including start up and small business in the procurement policies.

To date, Wennovation Hub has supported over 300 startup teams and more than 6,000 youths running startsups valued up to 2.5 million dollars through its network across Nigeria.

The digitalisation of agriculture offers young entrepreneurs the opportunity to create disruptive business models that accelerate modernisation of the sector, says Michael Hailu, Director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union based in the Netherlands.

“Achieving this kind of transformation requires that young people engage in agriculture; we need their capacity for innovation, for doing things differently, for harnessing the exciting developments we are seeing within and outside the realms of agribusiness,” Hailu told IPS.

Source IPS

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