Why many educated class, young people are yet to embrace agribusiness – Bamai Musa

Abubakar Bamai Musa

Abubarkar Bamai Musa is the newly appointed National Coordinator of the Nigeria Youth Farmers Network. In this interview with ENE OSHABA, the indigene of Yobe state, northeast Nigeria who has been a member of the network since 2014 expressed the organisation’s commitment to encouraging young Nigerians to explore opportunities in agriculture.

How will the network encourage youths to embrace agriculture amidst clashes between farmers and cattle breeders?

There are a lot of challenges in the agricultural sector, which make the young people not fully involved. Young people look at agriculture as a venture for retirees to come and invest after their service and as a second alternative that is why we don’t have a lot of innovations and educated people practicing in the agricultural sector.

I believe education is very important and creating a lot of awareness between them (herders and farmers) is very important. If you are a farmer, it doesn’t mean you (herders) will use your animals to feed on my farm” and that there must be innovations and modern ways of tackling all these issues. “If you look at the population percentage of people farming in Nigeria, you’ll find out that 40-45 percent of the farmers are youth from rural areas.”

Do you think education is necessary in agricultural business?

Most youth in the rural areas don’t have access to formal education, modern agriculture or capacity building and technicalities. This is why the Nigerian Young Farmers Network would create programmes and activities that would improve on modern agricultural development.

On the other hand, the Fulani don’t have any opportunity for capacity building and advanced technologies towards how they can manage and compose themselves, so showing them what they are doing is wrong.

Being in this office, this is part of the critical situation I am looking into and would consult a lot of stakeholders and consultants to see how we can bring a blueprint or framework to reduce all these activities in this country which have to go in a modern way.

Does the Network have plans in ensuring that security, insurance and assurance covers farmers and their produce in case of any attack and damage?

Definitely, we have the issue of insecurity in this country. I have a colleague of mine that I told you had a farm recently in the north western part of the country. After the harvest, they (bandits) set fire on the farm. It raised a lot of alarm. It seems this country is at war because of insecurity and food security.

We need to notify our security agencies on this critical issue. They are doing well but they have to improve to make this country a better place for the young people to practice agriculture.

What other priorities are you bringing on board in the shortest period of time to benefit the youths?

We are looking at the complete chain not only farming. We have to look at the processing itself, after processing, the off taking, most of our people are farmers, we have to look at various channels; I know Nigeria give priority to production of rice, maize, we have to look at the farmers that farm tomatoes, some of them farm oranges, beans etc.

Unfortunately, you’ll find out that preservation has been a big issue for them. They invest a lot. Let’s look at Benue state for example. You’ll find out that someone has a lot of oranges but there’s no processing company down there. So, we have to look for investors to come and invest in these companies which help in the employment of the youths down there.

After this we bring a lot of investors from within and outside the country to come and invest and call their attention to the presence of such markets in Nigeria.

Secondly if you look at the tomatoes processing company from Katsina someone will take a truck of tomatoes to Lagos and become stranded in selling them down there. So in our locality, we need a mini processing company that will help in processing tomatoes there and it will help a lot of people and eradicate unemployment we are facing in this country.

Thirdly, we are working with the Research Institute of seedlings and we find out that this is the major key issue of farming in Nigeria. You find out that you waste a lot of time and resources and you don’t get the required yield which discourages a lot of people from going back to the farm.

After this we want to see how we can get support to the youth not only farming, we have women involved too. We have Nigerian young farmer’s women. I’m giving more priority to that to look at gender equality and inclusiveness, that’s why we are looking at 1,2,5 and 8 of the sustainable development goals. We are looking at how to eradicate poverty, zero hunger, economic growth and wealth creation. So this is something I want to emphasize and focus on. We want the women to participate, not when you have to go to the farm. They create small green houses and make money, mini fish ponds and poultry. That’s why we are going to have a dashboard on the platform to connect a farmer to the buyer. We are also looking at embracing a lot of technology. For example, I saw someone on BBC that wasn’t educated but made a water pump machine. Let’s say we bring this guy and give him all the support we won’t have to go to China and India to buy a water pump.

I still watched another documentary on BBC where someone invented an alarm device that notifies you when you need to water your plants. So imagine you have this technology in your greenhouse, you don’t need to stress yourself.

These are the kinds of innovations we want to bring to the people. We are looking at the Eco-system where everybody can participate. So with that Nigerian Young Farmers Net-work has a lot to do with the young people of Nigeria. We believe we are the ones to turn the economic status of the country.

How achievable are your plans and what strategies would help bring the plans to reality?

Mr President is always calling the youths to participate in Agriculture. If you look back then in Kano they did the groundnut pyramids and all these people are youths so we believe we can do far better than them. We just need the opportunity and need them to come in and support and will make Nigeria proud.

Related content you may like