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YPARD Nigeria Café: Young agripreneurs in agribusiness

The key element of running a successful agribusiness in Nigeria requires technical skill, a level of business acumen and rugged determination.

Nevertheless, running a successful agribusiness enterprise involves some challenging factors such as climate change, pest and diseases, unfavourable market parameters, an unfavourable policy environment and lack of the required network for market access and technology. Members of the YPARD Nigeria network came together to discuss and proffer sustainable solutions to these challenges.

It was an exciting moment as agriculturists gathered to hold discussions at the YPARD Lagos Café tagged “Enabling the Business of Agriculture – the Youth Perspective”. Earlier in the day was a downpour of rain as invited guest and participants trooped into the AfriNolly Creative Hub Studio Space in Ikeja, Lagos.

The café, known as YPARD Café remains an exciting moment for YPARD members to interact with one another as well as network on possible opportunities for collaboration and partnerships in advancing agribusinesses growth. Following the success of the 2017 YPARD Nigeria Café, the 2018 café was another opportunity for members as they exchanged perspectives on agriculture and agribusiness.

The lead speaker

Ogbole Samson is a co-founder of PS Nutraceutical Int. LTD with multiple qualifications as a medical doctor, a Bachelors and Master’s degree holder, an MBA and a PhD in view. He devotes his time and resources to building modern farms using soilless technology – a technology in which crops are grown without soil and with a better yield. He also trains others to adopt this modern farming method.

He spoke about his passion for youth engagement in agriculture and how technologies can help in transforming the sector. He stressed how the youth can be attracted into agriculture through current technologies such as soilless technology and Censor-Smart Technology (CST). The CST enables the plant to provide information on the needed nutrients the plant is lacking while the drone technology help in spraying amongst other features.

He cited an example of how about ten percent (10%) of the US’s population is involved in agriculture and yet producing the food for the whole nation. This is in contrast to Nigeria where a greater percentage of its population is involved in agriculture but with the lingering problem of food insecurity and postharvest losses.

In his presentation, Samson highlighted the food problems and compared how agriculture is practised today in Nigeria with the use of smart farm technology alongside natural systems. He explained how finance, mentorship, access to land, access to markets, government policy, social burden and expectation, conflict and violence are affecting agriculture.

Agro-testimonials of the panel

After an intriguing presentation, the Café event captured Agro-testimonials from young agro-preneurs who run their own agribusinesses. The session allowed the selected persons to share their personal story on how they ventured into agriculture, the process of bringing their ideas to fruition, their challenges as well as coping strategies.

The Agro-testimonial panel session had Oyindamola Asaaju, Co-founder of Farm Republic; Adeniyi Adedeji Adenuga, Founder of Tepebo International Limited; Divine- Love Akam, Co-founder of Efarms Nigeria; and Serah Olagbedi Odende, Co-founder of African Harvesters. The session was moderated by Olawale Ojo, YPARD Nigeria’s Mentorship Coordinator.

Oyindamola Asaaju with four years’ progressive experience in the agribusiness industry, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Home Science and Management from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta and also a Masters in Business Administration. She worked with the IITA Youth in Agribusiness Office as team lead where she coordinated all activities; from production, processing and capacity building. Asides leading the team, she served in the value addition unit where agro-products were developed on a commercial scale.

She now serves as Founder and CEO of Farm Republic, an Agribusiness start-up based in Lagos, established in 2018 with the aim of creating market solutions for farmers through technology.

Adeniyi Adenuga is a young agripreneur from Ogun state with over seven years in agribusiness. He is Managing Director of Tepebo Farms, an Aquaculture based farm involved in the key value chain of the aquaculture industry, he has also ventured into livestock production and has trained, mentored youth and consults for investors in agriculture.

Divine-Love is a passionate emerging market economist with a strong belief that Africa's economy can be grown through agricultural technology.

Divine is the co-founder of E-farms, an award-winning innovative agritech start-up under 2017 CTA Pitchagrihack . She has a dream that Africa can feed the world and that a new generation of young farmers empowered by E-farms would lead the change. She has also received specialized training on Business and Entrepreneurship from Enterprise Development Center, Pan African University, Lagos and is named among the 2017 Diamond Bank 50 Entrepreneurs in Nigeria.

Serah Olagbedi Odende is a resounding voice and advocate of youth inclusion in Africa’s Agribusiness sector, Agrofood, and food sustainability. Her unrelenting quest birthed African Harvesters, an online agribusiness hub for agricultural stakeholders across the value food chain, providing bespoke digital agricultural services for stakeholders in the sector. She partners with USAID through Feed the Future to engage in youth empowerment in agriculture. She has worked with different agribusinesses and is endorsed by reputable Agricultural Associations and Bodies globally.

The take-home

This years’ YPARD Lagos café was proudly supported by AgroNigeria, a platform serving as the mouthpiece of Agriculture in Nigeria and AfriNolly Creative Hub who provided a state of the art event space and studio setup. The CEO of AgroNigeria, Mr. Richard-Mark Mbaram who was represented by the Executive Director, AgroNigeria introduced participants to the Nigerian Agricultural Awards and emphasized the need for the youth to actively participate in agriculture despite the setbacks.

A representative from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture (FMARD), Mr. Yomi Abe stated how the federal government is actively working towards buying all produce from farmers to reduce the reoccurring post-harvest losses faced by farmers in Nigeria.

A clear feedback from this years’ Lagos YPARD Café was the need for YPARD Nigeria Café event to be held more often. Tokurah Majid, the YPARD Nigeria Partnership Officer assured members that the possibilities of YPARD Nigeria holding subsequent events are limitless with more partners coming forward like AgroNigeria and AfriNolly.

Photo credit: Majid Tokurah (Jikod)