The understanding of agriculture by many young people is limited to farming which has to do with cultivating and harvesting crops and livestock production. This invariably means that many do not think beyond primary production.
Agriculture is a goldmine. It comprises of many enterprises along the value chain, from producers to consumers, which yield returns. According to Mr. Ayodele Olorunfemi, a keynote speaker at #PoddeumValueChain, an initiative against post-harvest loss with the theme “Tapping Greennovation” – 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 this goldmine.
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 labourers 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 fetched. Most farmers at this production level are smallholder farmers who possibly produce for family consumption with little or nothing being transferred to the other production levels.
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 levels? 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 see the need to add to value in terms 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 a participant at the #PoddeumValueChain, I noted some areas highlighted where farmers (old and young) can dive in to enjoy the many opportunities that exist in agriculture.
First – Have you ever considered going into production and packaging of inputs for smallholder farmers. The truth is, most of the farmers in rural areas have little access to inputs such as seeds, seedlings, equipment etc. Thus, one can tap into the opportunities of sourcing inputs for such farmers. Although, finances might be an issue for people who lack information and know-how but the market is huge (Kindly check AgriHub videos on how to access funds and financing for economic development).
Second – Opportunities abound in the fruit industry as many young people are moving into this sector with well processed and packed fruit drinks and juice. Hence, there are opportunities in the supply chain to supply fruits to retailers and juice processing companies.
Third –The agro Commodity Supply is one of the fastest growing enterprise that young people can venture. For instance, if a poultry farm with 1000 birds needs feed supplies for three months, imagine the ROI on feed supplies over that period. Poultry feeds constitute value driven agro-products that generates huge return on investment.
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 to market their products. This level is basically market focused and requires an effective secondary production level in order to operate. 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 outside their immediate environment.
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.
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, said: “It is high time the young people critically focus attention and ideas on value chain, there are so much opportunities to tap”.
On this note, I challenge you to greennovate, look beyond farming, make value addition a top priority, make reasonable income and never hesitate to help communities through your greennovation.
This post was originally published on AgrindusNetwork by the same author