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The African farmers’ stories: Mobilising youth in agriculture

The African Farmers’ Stories is an initiative of Support4AfricanSMEs that aims to amplify the voices of African farmers and highlight their pivotal role in keeping the continent fed. It is supported by partners like BusinessDay, MSF Agribusiness and more.

The latest edition of The African Farmers’ Stories tweet chat, hosted by Edobong Akpabio, features Nigerian agropreneur, John Agboola. John wears many hats – he is the team lead of AgrindusNetwork, a platform that works to create a sense of belonging for farmers by documenting their challenges and potential while linking them with needed resources, the co-founder of Go-Green Africa Initiative, an agricultural incubation initiative to empower African youths and help develop their agribusiness and technological skills across the value chain and provide them with resources, an online editor of Agric-Farmer Daily, and the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) Nigeria Communication Focal Person. He is currently running a 2-year AGCO Qualification Programme at the Strathmore Business School, Kenya.

John has a passion for agricultural research for development, and is committed to developing an agricultural sector that works for smallholder farmers, youth and women through his work as a youth motivator and agricultural advocate. He also offers free services in business consulting, research, policy development and training for smallholder farmers.
His journey into agriculture began growing up on a farm, learning the rudiments of farming, and joining his family members on his family farm in Otun Ekiti.
John’s focus areas are smallholder farmers, youth and women because he strongly believes that these are the key drivers of agricultural transformation in Africa, because it is estimated that smallholder farmers produce 80% of food for Africa, and 50% of the African population will be under 25 years by 2050. Therefore, it is important to provide these stakeholders with support, skills development and investment, and to create a sense of belonging for them. His aim is to create youth, farmer and women-led initiatives that create agribusiness efficiency in profitability, scalability, innovations and better livelihoods.

John has participated in several projects and programmes to further his mission for African agribusiness. The British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation market study for vegetable enterprises was a project focused that worked with farmers and traders in the vegetable value chain in Ogun and Lagos states to carry out an intensive market study within key markets to understand the opportunities and barriers in the value chain, and use the knowledge gained to develop a community vegetable farm and organise a dissemination workshop to share insights and recommendations to the farmers.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation multi-crop value chain studies for maize, groundnut, cowpea, millet, sorghum and plantain aimed to develop a robust cross-functional value chain across the six commodities by consulting farmers, processor, government agencies and other stakeholders. John’s role was to visit markets, farmers and value chain players to collect, input and analyse data, while assisting in project strategic development.

Read also: How COVID-19 rattles Nigeria’s poultry farmers

He also participated in a project on the socio-economic assessment of Titio community in Agbara, Ogun state, designed for development practitioners to understand the community in order to develop sustainable solutions. The project interacted with community members and deployed strategies to identify their needs and prioritise them, along with solutions. John has also been involved in developing agricultural policies, and ensures the mobilization and participation of youth, farmers and women in policy framework and development.
He also actively uses social media to promote agriculture and has trained more than 100 people on agribusiness, seeing it as a powerful tool that has the ability to reach a wider audience to encourage interest in agriculture among youth.

Speaking on offering free consulting services to his target group, since many of them cannot afford to pay for such services, John regards them as capacity building that contribute to agricultural transformation, create values and provide expertise and experience to aid efficiency, and describes them as a win-win situation as they all learn from one another.

John believes the continent must invest in agriculture from production to market, make it attractive, operate agriculture as a business, and promote inclusive agri-preneurship development for youth. To bridge the gap that still exists in youth involvement, the youth must play their part by taking advantage of existing potential in African agriculture, and their mindset needs to be changed to see agribusiness as viable through investment, support mechanisms, bridging infrastructural gaps, smart innovation, mechanization, resource allocation, and facilitating access to land and knowledge.
The government and other institutions can make agriculture a major contributor to Africa’s GDP growth by proposing successful models for youth in agriculture, being willing and committed to effecting the needed changes, and collaborating across the chains of operation.

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