Today’s agriculture is totally different from past years of farming.
Though the transition process is slow, gradually, young people are adopting Information Communication Technology (ICT) and innovations whilst, fading off traditional farming practices and techniques.
In most African countries, the average age of farmers is 60 years old, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). These set of people are constantly feeding the world using traditional approaches to farming and less or no effort on treating agriculture as a business.
The inefficiency of smallholder farmers to treat farming as a business and leverage on ICT has somewhat led to persistent poverty in the rural areas due to low farm productivity experienced by smallholder farmers who cultivates on small plot of land, highly dependent on rain-fed agriculture, have little or no access to improved inputs such as improved seeds, fertilizer, good agronomic practices, have little use of mechanized tools and little access to markets and ultimately, non-adoption of technology, innovation and social media to advocate for their agribusiness enterprises.
The continent of Africa has an increasing population of young people who are dynamic, smart, energetic, innovative, entrepreneurs and able to integrate technology into their operations. The recent survey conducted by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that agricultural sector contributes up to 70% of the total employment and 40% percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The sector contributes higher than the oil and manufacturing sectors combined.
To solve the unemployment problem existing across the continent of Africa, young people need to shift focus to agriculture and existing opportunities along the value chain. To some young farmers, “agriculture is life” while to some, “farming is cool”, “agriculture is now agricoolture”, “agriculture is sexy”, “agriculture is goldmine” and “agriculture is the most lucrative sector”. The African Development Bank (AfDB) president, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina better phrased the words “think of investment, think of agriculture and think of Africa.”
Agriculture is now gaining more popularity due to rebranding being done on social media and valuable investments from the private sector, philanthropists, government and different donor agencies. Although, much more effort needs to be in place to actualize the potential of agriculture in Africa as the most viable, sustainable and lucrative career pathway for young people.
To do this, it is critical to support the course of this transformation through promotion of agriculture and capacity building of both old and young farmers on the best use of social media and ICT to actualize the full potentials of their agricultural operations such as production, information on agronomic practices, marketing, support services and contributing to viable discussion on agricultural subject matters.
Young Professional for Agricultural Development (YPARD) is one of the foremost platforms that is committed to youth inclusion in agriculture. While promoting agriculture among youths, the platform acknowledges the importance of capacity building and training for youths across the value chain and especially, the use of social media and ICT to access information and promote the message of agriculture before the farm level.
YPARD Nigeria as part of its commitment to continue to train each batch of the Go – Greeners under the one-month free agribusiness boot camp program, an initiative of the GoGreen Africa Initiative, trained the 4th batch of the initiative on the use of social media as an ICT tool for promoting agribusinesses.
The GoGreen Africa Initiative is a Pan African campaign with the goal of transforming the agricultural landscape on the continent. The initiative aims to deliver one million agribusiness entrepreneurs across Africa by the year 2025 through the provision of an integrated learning, skills acquisition and mentorship platform. The initiative uses a boot camp approach to host interested persons right on the farm for a period of 30 days. During this period, the so-called GoGrenners are exposed to practical training along with various aspects of the agricultural value chains and business ethics.
The social media training held, reflected on the past training curriculum to train twenty people on different social media tools and their application to agriculture. Using demonstration, case studies, live examples, role play, the training focused nearly on all the existing social networking tools with special attention on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. The training also focused on social media strategy for agribusinesses and the art of blogging as means to communicate agriculture beyond the farm level.
The five hours training ended with the proper introduction of YPARD as part of the strategies to mobilize membership and to give detailed importance and benefits for the Go-Greeners who wish to join YPARD.
The post-training assessment conducted shows that the training met the needs of the participants and new knowledge and skills were added on best uses of social media for their various agribusiness enterprises. In her words, Chioma acknowledged that “the training has exposed and helped her to identify the various ways her agribusiness ideas can thrive by using social media”. Mosunmola said, “she is setting up plantain plantation as well as adding value to produce plantain flour but she stressed the importance of the training in identifying her target audience, the source of materials, market information and how to constantly develop contents on social media around her plantain business.”
While acknowledging the importance of blending finance for agriculture as commonly said by CTA, it is also important to acknowledge the necessity of blending social media with agriculture to promote agriculture beyond the farm corner to a larger audience and thus, attracting youth, investment, collaboration and innovation into agriculture.
Photo credit: Bolu