For the past month the ‘Farmer Views’ section has featured segments written by GFN member Chibuike Emmanuel from Nigeria who was inspired by a story in The New York Times published several weeks ago, ‘Millennials ‘Make Farming Sexy’ in Africa, Where Tilling the Soil Once Meant Shame’ by Sarah Maslin Nir. Her article was about efforts by some members of the younger generation to spruce up how farming is perceived in Ghana. There are quite a few other nations on the continent and Chibuike decided to set out and highlight some young farmers he is knowledgable of and their efforts in a few other countries. Parts 1, 2 & 3 of ‘Ensuring Ag Remains ‘Sexy’ In Africa’ now conclude with Part 4 below:
The multi-disciplinary efforts of young Africans to ensure that Agriculture remains ‘sexy’ on the continent.
Just as in Ghana where ‘’…celebrities have answered the call’’ Nigerian ace-artiste DBanj led a pan Africa collaboration effort for the ONE’s Do Agric, It Pays Campaign with his ‘’Cocoa na Chocolate’’ banger. Top recording artists from countries across the continent – Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, DRC, South Africa, Swaziland, Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya and Cameroon – were all involved in making the hit song. From musicals to visuals, Nawsheen Hosenally, who is Mauritian merged her passion for technology with her field of study in agricultural extension to co-found Agribusiness TV with her Burkinabe journalist husband. The web TV makes the sector more attractive to youth by showcasing success stories of young ‘’agriprenuers’’ and their innovations across Africa.
As President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana is doling out policies to strengthen his country’s ‘agricultural renaissance’, young Africans are also driving sustainable policies in other places. With degrees from Imperial College London and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Dr. Debisi Araba from Nigeria, but now based in Nariobi, is pioneering the International Center For Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) portfolio in Africa based on four pivotal areas: climate-smart agriculture; building sustainable food systems and ecosystems actions; plus analyzing big data. He served as the Senior Technical Adviser to Dr. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, when he was the Nigerian Minister of Agriculture. For instance, Debisi provided technical advice to the then President of Nigeria and Minister on the Nigerian Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA).
So with over 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable area resident on the continent, increasingly Africa’s millennial are now embracing ‘’…tilling the soil…’’ but they understand that this is beyond primary agriculture and even food. Whether they are farmers, engineers, culture shapers, food scientists, lawyers or accountants, there is always something they can do in the agri-food value chain. So multi-disciplinary cross-pollination of ideas across fields and countries are already taking place. The embers of this revolution is being fanned across the continent- from east to west, north to south. These young men and women understand ‘’that what’s at stake is Africa’s economic future’’. Therefore, they are breaking barriers, trudging through unfathomed hardship, innovating under excruciating conditions and taking charge of their own destinies. Their efforts are showing that this can be done, ‘’making farming (agriculture) sexy’’ thus attractive to other young people and ensuring that this resurgence in Africa’s agriculture isn’t just a fad, but here to stay.
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.