The IFE AGRIC CONFERENCE was organized by the Nigerian Association of Agricultural Students Obafemi Awolowo University Chapter. The conference started last year and this year’s edition was tagged iACe 2.0 with the theme THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION AND FUTURE OF AGRICULTURE IN AFRICA organized by the National Association of Agricultural Students, OAU Chapter. The conference was graced with dignitaries , representative from the office of the Governor, Ekiti State, mind blowing speakers, founders of various Agribusinesses; Dr Akinade Ogunbiyi, Chairman Mutual benefit Assurance PLC and also a politician per excellence, Mr Kenneth Obiajulu Managing Director Farmcrowdy , Mr Ibrahim Maigari the CEO and Co-founder, Livestock247, Africanfarmer Mogaji an agricultural consultant, CEO X-Ray farms consulting and AF marketing, Akin Alabi, Managing Partner and Co-founder of Corporate Farmers International Ltd and finally the MC of the day Timi Agbaje, lawyer and Entertainer.
The Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, Professor Adekunle delivered the welcome address, recognizing the speaker and everyone present at the conference, giving a brief history on the Faculty of Agriculture, its achievements and the way forward. The Dean commended the students for organizing this conference and encouraged them to keep moving forward. He emphasized the need to gain relevant skills asides the certificate offered by Tertiary Institutions. Shortly after the address of the Dean, Dr Cornelius Adewale who is also an alumnus of the faculty and a one-time President of NAAS OAU came up and addressed the attendees of the conference on the topic; Rethinking Agricultural Education – “passionate and ready to make a difference” . He mentioned that even though the system of education here may not be in line with the system of agricultural education in developed countries, students should not be discouraged from agriculture because what matters is building the passion in what you are doing and this would lead to a better ground. This statement was made as result of what is passion has earned him at Washington University and all other projects he has been involved in. Thereafter he made an announcement on the development of an online class of which Washington University is partnering with Obafemi Awolowo University and also promised to come back and sensitize the students later. The President of the association, Ogunyemi Oluwaseun gave his speech.The second phase of the Agric Innovation Challenge was anchored by Olumide Olajide, a challenge which involved students who have coming together to pitch their creative solution on problems they have identified in the agricultural sector. The top three teams were selected, MOU AGRO emerged as the first, Vangauard Agriculture as the second and Agrosmart as the third.
Dr Akinade Ogunbiyi (Chairman of Mutual benefit Assurance PLC) gave his remark. First he encouraged the team who has done a great job in organizing this conference to keep up the good work. He made it known that the development of agriculture marked a great turning point in the history of the Nation.The sector has been divided into two, the first which is the production of food crop for consumption in the economy and the second which is the production of food crop for exportations. The Agriculture sector cannot be neglected in Nigeria as it is still the primary source of employment, a source of food production and also has increased the GDP of the country over the years. The effect of bad governance on the youths of Nigeria has led them to find their way of developing businesses on their own and be based in other countries (brain drain).
The next session was led by one of the speakers, Africanfarmer Mogaji an agricultural consultant, CEO X-Ray farms consulting and AF marketing. He shared his journey as an agropreneur at an early stage stating how agriculture is not appealing due to the nature of the environment it is being practiced. The agriculture sector needs people who can add value, not just in the aspect of processing, but other value additions channels like photography in agriculture, agricultural documentary. Agriculture is not a work that could be done alone in isolation but needs collaboration with people who have the skill set required to bring any vision to life. He talked briefly on the problems Fulani Herdsmen were creating and proffered a solution to manage the situation. He stressed the need for a mentor for all young entrepreneurs on whose wings they can ride. He ended his conversation by making himself available to coach young agropreneurs so as to ride on the right path.
Ibrahim Maigari (CEO and Co-founder, Livestock247) took over immediately after Africanfarmer’s session. He started by congratulating the students of the prestigious faculty for being in the agricultural sector. Agricultural sector is not only the past, it’s the present and the future. He talked about developing a sustainable livestock production system in Nigeria. He shared his experiences in the sector. He stated that Nigeria’s population is increasing rapidly and the demand for meat is greatly increasing with Lagos being the front runner in meat consumption. On an average, Lagos receives about 50,000 cows a week. Not only is the demand for meat increasing but also the demand of milk is fast increasing as well but Nigeria as a country has always been buying livestock products and this is a gap where someone definitely needs to fill because with the growing population, it would be detrimental to keep importing. The more our meat and milk consumption increases the more the local production decreases. In Agribusiness discrimination should not be heard of and the mentality of cattle rearing being only for the Fulanis should be disregarded. Cows don’t need a particular tribe the only thing they need is what he called TLC (Tender Loving Care). The space of livestock farming is wide most especially Lagos which he tagged to be a “country inside country” and people most especially the youths are to take up challenges in the sector.
A panel session was conducted immediately after the speaker. Mr Ibrahim Maigari, Africanfarmer and Bidemi Ogedengbe of Farmtrybe make up the panel where questions for the speakers were attended to.
But just before then, The Seeds Magazine, written and edited by the students of the faculty was launched by the MC Timi Agbaje. Mr Akin Ogunbiyi launched the magazine with #500,000, AfricanFarmer launched the magazine with #100,000, Ibrahim Maigari launched the magazine with #20,000 and the panel session continued.
BO; Are there policies in place to encourage south westerners to thrive in the livestock business?
IM; What is needed in the sector is funding which is done by private sectors, government put policies in place. We don’t really need policies but structures to be put in place by the government to support anyone who wants to venture into cattle production business because policies are not what make people consume meat and milk, demand is.
BO; Yes the mind boggling number on the demand and the amount that can be generated form venturing into agriculture are there. But where exactly should one start from?
AF; You should start from what you like, what is it that interests you. What do people say you like to do, start with those things that are how to start in agribusiness and ensure to be in the right company.
BO; How do I start a fresh milk production business?
IM; A lot of knowledge about the breeds of livestock would be needed first. Such a person could actually send an email to Livestock247 to get more information.
BO; What is the price range of small cattle and how do I build a ranch?
AF; Instead of thinking about going into livestock farming without proper preparations, why not look into the value chain aspect, more like producing grasses for the livestock.
Kenneth Obiajulu the MD, Farmcrowdy, gave a brief talk on the state of agriculture and what farmcrowdy is doing, followed by a panel session with Akin Alabi of Corporate farmers international , Kenneth Obiajulu of farmcrowdy and Bidemi Ogedengbe of farmtrybe
BO; Where do you see agricultural technology in 2050?
AA; Technology in agriculture plays effectively in services. It will help to improve production of seeds and inputs.
KO; Technology is really playing an important role in sending the right information to the people who need it especially in getting markets for your products. Also in creating applications that would help solve and provide solutions to some problems encountered by farmers in their field.
BO; In the processing aspect of agriculture, do you think Nigeria is way up there or we are not getting closer to it at all?
AA; We are not yet there because most farmers focuses on the production aspect alone but still we need more producers so we can get more for processing.
KO; We need more hands in the processing of agricultural produce. As you move up the value chain the more money you make in the sector. More premium is placed on processed agricultural produce.
BO; Are there any student package for investment in farmcrowdy?
KO; Farmcrowdy doesn‘t discriminate ages, everyone is the same, the same amount made available for all. Farmcrowdy also runs a large agro community called Agrisquare where discussions are made in agriculture. Farmcrowdy is hoping to partner with Ibrahim Maigari to train graduates for the production of livestock and help them in funding it.
AA; Corporate farmers International have partnered with Anchor Insurance created a platform to engage graduates in agriculture as Agricultural Insurance Agents where you would be able to sell agriculture products to farmers anywhere in Nigeria, this has started in FUNAAB and now brought to OAU. This is to create values and create jobs in the sector.
BO; What extent do you feel the media has influenced agriculture so far?
AA; By 2020 CFIL would be launching out Agric TV online that agricultural students can create contents and get on the platform , viewed by various people across the country and make money by that. Media is used to attract young agriculturists. Media can take anyone to anyone in the world. Let the world know what you do through a proper use of your mobile phones.
Following the panel sessions were the presentations by AISEC and USMEFAN and thereafter the conference was brought to an end by the Vice President of NAAS Agono Grace.
Farmtrybe now encourages students who have found this golden opportunity of being in the sector to make a good use of it and cook out something big.