Several weeks ago, The New York Times published an article on efforts by some members of the younger generation to spruce up how farming is perceived – ‘Millennials ‘Make Farming Sexy’ in Africa, Where Tilling the Soil Once Meant Shame’ by Sarah Maslin Nir. While the story said Africa, it was set in Ghana. There are quite a few other nations on the continent and GFN member Chibuike Emmanuel from Nigeria decided to set out and highlight some young farmers and efforts in a few other countries. Parts 1 & 2 of ‘Ensuring Ag Remains ‘Sexy’ In Africa’ of this short series by Chibuike are followed by Part 3 below:
The multi-disciplinary efforts of young Africans to ensure that Agriculture remains ‘sexy’ on the continent.
Aware that ‘‘[W]hile there are large, successful farms on the continent, most farmers in sub-Saharan Africa are smallholders farmers cultivating an acre or less’’ as the article stated, Ogbole Samson a Nigerian biochemist is utilizing his scientific background to grow yams without soil but in air through the process of aeroponics. He believes that as land becomes more scare and prices skyrocket, that his solution will become more valuable. In the same vein, Angel Adelaja pioneered hydroponics in Nigeria through Fresh Direct to grow vegetables vertically in stackable shipping containers! One container can produce what an acre and a half of vegetable cultivation usually does!
And more African youth are stepping up to the plate. Nyasha Mudukuti was subjected to farm chores such as hand weeding several hours before going to school every morning in her native Zimbabwe. She hated agriculture and wanted to just work in an office where she can “wear lipsticks, paint her nails and cross her legs” because that was the image of success. By some providence, she is now rounding up her MSc in Plant Breeding, Genomics and Biotechnology from Michigan State University. She is passionate about deploying these technologies to help women across Africa “so that they don’t go through the same ordeal as she did”.
These examples underscore how ‘’A boom in technology that aims to increase productivity is helping make agriculture more modern and lucrative’’ and address the challenges of ‘’undeveloped distribution networks, poor roads and fickle water supplies‘’ as Sarah Maslin Nir opines [in the NYT article].
Value addition for food also comes into play. In Madagascar, Heritiaina Randriamananatahina produces dairy and confectionary products, thus increasing jobs and hiring local farmers. In Tanzania, Fawad Awadh’s YYTZ Agro processing produces and exports cashew nuts thereby increasing profit for local farmers. Egyptian Mostafa Amin started Breadfast.com to deliver fresh baked products and breakfast to customers’ doorsteps every morning across the country, while Guinean-born Oumou Bah a 24 year-old chef and blogger owns Kadiafricanrecipes.com which teaches people how to cook delicious African recipes in very easy steps.
See the final post with Part 4 next week...
Chibuike Emmanuel is a young Nigerian farmer who is a member of the Global farmer Network. He is the founding curator of the Agriculture is Sexy Network which inspires, supports and mentors millennials to embrace agri-food careers as a pathway to Africa’s economic prosperity.