Hello Readers, do you know the importance of youth’s involvement in agriculture cannot be overemphasized?
There are quite a number of youths breaking grounds and providing innovative solutions in the agricultural sector today.
I have the privilege to present to you the next agripreneur to be featured in the interview section of this blog. I present to you a vibrant young lady with vast experience in Soilless farming: Stella Arowolo of Beyond Attendance Initiative also known as Agbebinrin…Read further as you get to know how she got interested in agriculture and her journey so far in the sector.
Agricincome: Can you introduce yourself and farming background to our Readers?
Stella Arowolo: I am Stella Sikemi Arowolo, popularly known as Agbebinrin, I am an Agricultural Advocate, a student of Crop Production at Olabisi Onabanjo University , the founder of Beyond Attendance and a Soilless farmer. About my farming background, it all started when I got admitted to the tertiary institution, I was offered Crop Production and I unwillingly accepted the offer because I thought it is not a prominent course. So during my early days in the university, I realized I was always reluctant to speak about my course of study to people because almost everyone (including me) believes studying an Agro related course is a waste of time. I then became curious, in order to have enough information to give people who kept asking me the reason why I am studying Agriculture I started a knowledge quest about what Agriculture really entails. I got a lot of information and I realized Agriculture is far beyond planting & rearing. I began practicing as a backyard farmer and now I am a Soilless farmer who grows premium vegetables like Chicory, Kale, Lettuce, Basil, Mint among others. Also, I made up my mind to make others who are like me most especially Agricultural undergraduates understand what Agriculture is really about which led me to being an Agricultural Advocate and the founder of Beyond Attendance ; an Agro based initiative devoted to seeing to the involvement of youths especially Agricultural undergraduates in Agriculture. We ensure youths develop a niche in the Agro space through enlightenment via positive expository engagements thereby changing various misconceptions about Agriculture.
Agricincome: Your involvement in Nigerian agriculture as a young woman is highly commendable. What is the driving force behind this passion for agriculture?
Stella Arowolo: The driving force behind my passion for Agriculture, okay…., I got to know that a very high percentage of people see Agriculture as a dirty man’s business but everyone eats. We barely can survive 24hours without eating except one is fasting. So if no one wants to practice Agriculture, we will all run into famine in the nearest future which will be very unbearable. So my passion emerges from my interest in ensuring zero hunger. It will interest you to know that the average age of a Nigerian farmer is 60 so if the aged farmers are no longer available to practice Agriculture, what will then happen to the future of food in Nigeria. Hence, Nigerian citizens particularly the youths need to get enlightened about what Agriculture is all about in order to ensure food security.
Agricincome: What will you say about Nigerian agriculture in relation to its economic growth?
Stella Arowolo: Agriculture is the bedrock & center of Nigeria’s economy. In the 60s/70s, Agriculture was the strength of the economy, Nigeria’s economy was increased by 70% through Agricultural engagements especially via exportation of Agro produce but now reverse is the case. As at June 2021, Agriculture contributed 22.13% of the total nominal GDP. The difference is clear and a lot of challenges have risen. Agriculture is capable of boosting the economy, generate a sustainable source of income for citizens, prevent poverty, improve livelihood and more provided it is taken serious. Currently in Nigeria, Agriculture is the largest employer of labour, it provides job for about 70% of the entire workforce. Although, we have higher percentage of small scale farmers who are actually practicing Agriculture for consumption, they are the producers of 80% of the food consumed in Nigeria. Let us now imagine having intentional farmers, I mean people who will see Agriculture as a profession and embrace innovative ideas, the future of food will be secured and there will be an increase in the economy.
Agricincome: What are the measures that you think should be in place, to reduce food scarcity in Nigeria?
Stella Arowolo: Measures that should be put in place to reduce food scarcity in Nigeria are; advocacy for profitable Agriculture. It’s high time we stop seeing Agriculture as a venture for consumption alone. The business side of Agriculture should be exposed to the general populace so that a lot of people (especially youths) will really want to get involved. The government should make Agriculture attractive, projects other than sharing of NPK to farmers should be implemented. Agro extension services should be made available in order to help the farmers, especially with the issue of climate change so they can learn and adapt new techniques.
Agricincome: What’s your view on youths involvement in Nigerian agriculture and how it can boost the economic growth?
Stella Arowolo: My view about the involvement of youths in Agriculture, you know youths of the 21st century wants everything done FAST. Therefore, if the youths are gainfully involved in Agriculture the face of Agric in Nigeria will get advanced because no youth will want to practice Agriculture the conventional way I mean via the use of hoes & cutlasses. Modern Agricultural innovations will emerge and there will be advancement in Nigeria’s Agriculture which will surely boost the economy rapidly.
Agricincome: From your perspective, how do you think more youths can be involved in food production especially in complementing food production to meet the ever increasing insatiable demand for food?
Stella Arowolo: From my perspective, I think more youths should get involved in food production especially in complementing food production to meet the ever increasing insatiable demand of food by exploring the Agricultural value chain. That is where value addition comes in which automatically increases food supply and economic rate simultaneously, value attracts value. Enough of using the ‘produce to perish’ formula in the practice of Agriculture. There is a need for the youths to know that there is more to Agriculture other than production. Exploring the Agric value chain is where the art, science & technology aspect of Agriculture lies. Youths are of the new age therefore our engagement in Agriculture should be in respect to seeing Agriculture beyond farming.
Agricincome: If you will give any nugget for success to youth in agriculture, what would it be?
Stella Arowolo: The Agricultural value chain is long enough to accommodate everyone.
Agricincome: Thank you for your time.
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