The understanding of agriculture by many young people or naive person is limited to farming which has to do with cultivating crops and harvesting the cultivated crops. This invariably means that many did not think beyond the primary production end of crops farming.
The secret behind agriculture as a goldmine to tap into remains that agriculture comprises of many enterprises along the value chain which has more return on income based on understanding and management practices put in place.
Agriculture has wide coverage and its beyond farming and even at that, the word farming is not limited to planting of crops but covers also, the rearing of animals in small and large scale. The value chain of agriculture is a holistic chain which must be understood before venturing into agriculture because, one might choose to operate on one enterprise or more than one depending on the understanding of the enterprise and the financial capability.
As said by a keynote speaker during the Poddeum value chain event with the theme “Tapping into the Green Innovation” – Many people have failed to understand the concept of agriculture and the stages of production as it relates to agriculture. Hence, there are three important stages that all farm owners, intending farmers (young and old) and business owners must understand in order to effectively tap into the goldmine of agriculture.
The primary production level is mainly known as the foundation for any agricultural enterprise because of planning and processes involved. Take for example, cultivating cassava or plantain, one needs to acquire a land, do the soil test, cultivate the land using laborer or machines, plant the seeds or seedlings, weed the plants as they grow, water appropriately in case of shortage of rain using traditional or modern irrigating system, harvest the crops at the harvesting season. This is quite similar to the animal husbandry practices except for some differences.
It is striking that most of the existing farmers both old and young fall into this category with few of them giving consideration for secondary and tertiary production. The reason is not far fetch from the truth that most of the dominating farmers at this production level are smallholder farmers who possibly produce for family consumption with little or none to transfer to the other production level.
I have no doubt that the primary production is the bedrock of agriculture but beyond this, what are the opportunities that are in existence in other production level. Obviously, they are numerous but few are outlined here.
In the past, this production level is like a trap for many people who believed that one does not need any value addition to his/her produce before breaking into the market. As the market expands, competition grows and people, especially the young people sees the need to add to value in term of packaging and branding of agricultural produce but few people are taking this advantage. Possibly because of funds, lack of technical know-how or the fear of the unknown outcome.
As an onlooker at the Poddeum Value Chain event, I penned down some highlighted areas where farmers (old and young) can dive into to enjoy the many opportunities that exist in agriculture.
First – Have you ever consider going in production and packaging of Inputs for smallholder farmers. The truth is, most of the farmers in rural areas have little or no access to inputs such as seeds, seedlings, equipment, mechanized machineries etc. Thus, one can tap into the opportunities of sourcing inputs for farmers. Although, finances might be an issue for people who lack of information and know-how but the market is huge (Kindly check AgriHub videos on how to access funds and financing for economic development).
Second – It is no longer a news that there are opportunities in the fruit industries as many young people are moving into this sector with well processed and packed fruit drinks and juice. Hence, one can either engage farmers or third party in supplying oranges or fruits which can be converted into fruit drinks and juice.
Third –The Agro Commodity Supply is one of the fastest growing enterprise where young people can tap into the existing opportunities. Let me cite a practical example of poultry industry. If a poultry farm with 1000 birds wants to feed its birds over three months, just imagine the feed consumption of the birds per day and over the period of three months. Hence, one can think beyond farming to compounding and producing feeds for the birds to feed and for the poultry industry to remain sustainable. This is just an example and there are numerous agro-commodity opportunities to tap.
Fourth – Think beyond the listed points, look at the loads of agricultural produce, critically observe the rural communities and see what gold mine you can tap into and invariably what problem you can solve with your green innovation.
This production level teaches people at the preceding levels to map-out strategies of marketing their products beyond their niche. This level is basically market focus that requires strengthening secondary production in order to operate effectively. Farmers, especially young people must understand that the world is now digital and hence, the need to take advantage of ICT to market agricultural produce beyond their environment.
But there are powerful forces that ensure the successful operations of these three stages and these include governments, the policy makers, agricultural researchers, scientist, development experts, banks etc.
It is noteworthy to recapitalized on the encouraging and inspiring words of the legend of our generation, Dr Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) who has dedicated his life to helping smallholder farmers and agriculture. During the 2016 Agtalks in Rome with four young innovators shaping the agricultural sector, he said and I quote “It is high time the young people critically focus attention and ideas on the value chain, there is so much opportunities to tap into.
On this note, I challenge you to green innovate, look beyond farming, make value addition a top priority, make reasonable income and never hesitate to help communities through your green innovation.