The NAAES OAU CONFERENCE NOC 2.0 tagged Food Security and National Development was organized by the Nigerian Association of Agricultural Economics Students, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Present at the conference were resourceful persons in the field of agriculture and agribusiness experts; Engineer Olumuyiwa Aiyegbusi, CEO Olu Olu foods, Miss Temitope Omotolani, Co-founder Crowdyvest, Professor Stella Williams, founder of NIWARD, Professor A.A Tijani, Head of Department Agricultural Economics, OAU. The Vice President of the association Oladimeji Omolara gave the welcome address, recognizing everyone present at the conference.
Engr. Olumuyiwa Aiyegbusi, CEO Olu Olu foods identified several actors causing food insecurity such as insufficiency, post-harvest losses which is a major aspect in the agricultural value chain this is due to our low level of technological advancement in Africa especially in processing and storage, gender inequality, conflicts particularly the problems being faced in the Northeast Nigeria, climate changes and natural disasters. On the other hand, National development is having adequate economic lifestyle, the progress of citizens and also job availability” He said. Engr. Olumuyiwa also stressed that when food security is taken care of we can have national development. He laid emphasis on post-harvest losses stating that in food production our farmers are really trying their best most especially cassava and cowpea production, we are the number one producers of these crops. The Nigerian youth are yet to see the gold embedded in this country and keeps saying there is no job in this country giving room for foreigners to locate these resources. In other countries, the farmers live a good and comfortable life including their families but here in Nigeria a farmer cannot afford to provide standard education for his or her ward, “how then do we encourage the next generation to take up the profession?” Engr. Olumiyiwa also stated that he never studied agriculture while he was an undergraduate but his profession changed when he went for his NYSC program at the Federal Institute of Research after which he got a job immediately after his service and considering how it was then getting a job, he had a rethink considering the future of how his children would have to suffer in search of job opportunities as spaces would have been filled up before then, “I decided to be a game-changer”. Engr. Olumuyiwa said a few things that have made him who he is today. “you can never become rich by working for others” both in monetary terms and having your time all to yourself though you might be comfortable. Having your own business gives you an avenue to control your time. “Be diligent and be focused” he added.
The next session led by Miss Temitope Omotolani, Co-founder and Executive Director of Operations in Crowdyvest highlighted a fact that agriculture is a very “sexy profession” thereby requested to know students who have set plans in the sector. Miss Temitope spoke on the topic “EMERGING ROLES OF TECHNOLOGY IN SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE DEVELOPMENT. “Men can do without mobile phones but can’t stay days without food thereby making agribusiness a business that will continue to exist till eternity”, she said. Miss Omotolani shared how she found her way into agribusiness. She started several ventures herself and later ventured into shopping agricultural products for people and traveled a lot even as a young lady. “Do not be afraid to go on adventures, do not be afraid to give yourself to learning” Miss Omotolani said. Miss Omotolani expanded more on how she went into her agricultural business, securing land for her productions but failed a lot in her first trials and this led her and some others to start Farmcrowdy an innovative agri-digital platform that connects finance, agriculture, and technology. She further explained how Farmcrowdy operates and how the company has been thriving. Agriculture that can feed billions of people by 2050 with the use of innovative ideas and technologies is the way forward. The phenomenon should be population growth is directly proportional to production volume, this can only be done with the use of smart ways of farming without being affected by climate change. Not everyone can venture into starting a business but being in a partnership, leveraging on the strength of others to bring about productivity is the way forward. In sustainable agriculture, diligence is very important and that keeps you going despite the challenges you might encounter, she added. Miss Omotolani encouraged the students that sustainable agriculture is starting a business in agriculture and not giving up until we get the expected results and changes.
A panel session comprising of panelists Engr. Muyiwa, Miss Omotolani, Professor Stella was moderated by Mr. David Adewuyi, a part five student in the Department of Agricultural Economics where cogent issues on agribusiness were discussed. Omisakin Samuel, President ,NAAE OAU chapter welcome all special guests and participants. He emphasized the importance of Food security and why the executive council picked the theme (Food Security and National Development) for the conference. He also encouraged everyone to listen and learn from the invited resource persons. The panelists gave their opinions on the possibilities of attaining food security in Nigeria considering the fact that the country is endowed with the resources to do this. Also encouraging young people especially in Obafemi Awolowo University, giving them land to farm. Engr. Olumuyiwa made it known that currently his company needs more products especially cassava and encouraged the students who farm these products to sell their harvest to Olu Olu foods because they need more.
Following the panel session was the launching of the magazine Agrodigest Magazine, a publication of the Editorial arm, Nigerian Association of Agricultural Economics and an intervarsity debate between five tertiary institutions; Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Ilorin, Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Ladoke Akintola University and the University of Ibadan.
The attainment of food security in the country lies in our hands as agriculturists, everyone should be on the lookout of how this can be achieved.