aktualisiert am 02.07.2022
NADEUM P004 Craftsmen / Skilled worker in agriculture
In March 2021, southern parts of Nigeria experienced a temporary famine; not due to draught or flood as is usually the case but as a result of a misunderstanding between the southern markets and the northern food suppliers. Products ranging from meat, yams, onions, tomatoes, and pepper were prevented from being supplied to the south due to this geo-political misunderstanding. One could say it was a case of blackmail and will occur again in the future unless a balance is reached where each part of the country can attain self-sufficiency in terms of their required basics agricultural needs.
Hence the thoughts of a program that will inculcate a new habit of seeing farming as a very healthy profession amongst the Nigerian youth in general.
The current image of the average Nigerian farmer is in a very bad shape because everyone sees farming or agriculture generally as a dirty, tedious job only to be done by the poor and lowly. This program termed “AgroPlus or Agro+” will be aimed at establishing a new form of agricultural practices among the youths that shall come with a lot of prestige, dignity and profit.
One of the major problems facing Nigeria at the moment is severe unemployment (Nigeria is currently rated as one of the countries with the highest level of unemployment as at the time of writing this report) but Agro+ can quickly close the gap up to a good extent by making a lot of youths self-employed and employers as well as making them big contributors to a new Africa which will be in turn important for the rest of the world. I strongly believe that Africa has the capacity and resources to make enough agricultural output that can sustain the current world if the current problems facing the agricultural sector can be addressed and a level field can be achieved for each youth that is willing to make individual changes for the development of agriculture in Nigeria.
It is strongly believed that Nigeria will be a catalyst for such a project will shall also be quickly implemented in other African countries as soon as the project is deemed to be a success.
But what are some of the current problems facing agricultural development in Nigeria?
There are several problems to be encountered when one considers agricultural projects in Nigeria. However, if these problems are overcome, it will lead to an era of food surplus and job creation that is currently only being dreamt of. A few of such setbacks are underlisted.
- Worsening security issues across the country
- Negative image associated with farming
- Lack of basic amenities available to farmers
- Little or no incentives for farmers
- Corruption when government officials are involved
- Lack of transportation network, storage and processing facilities
- Little or no pest and disease control
- Lack of educational and extension programs
- Irrigation problems
- Absence of mechanized systems of farming
Picture: A young farmer process Casava with the aid of a power generator
Picture credit: Tuma Ahwinahwi
The Agro+ scheme will be a part of the P004 project which will focus on informal education of young people in terms of vocation training as well as in the field of agriculture. The targets for vocation training will include but not limited to skills acquisition in the following fields: Electricians, auto mechanics, nursing, tools and machine parts maintenance, construction, doors and windows manufacturing, confectionaries etc.
Back to AgroPlus. What are the most likely solutions to the aforementioned problems facing agricuktural output in Nigeria and which of them would be addressed by Agro+?
- Rebranding the agricultural sector is key. That is why we will focus a lot on changing the face of agricultural and remove gradually the stigma of “poor men´s occupation” attached to it. Farmers will be giving all the necessary aids to access the world by going on international training trips for retraining, seminars etc.
- Mechanized agricultural drive by training local interns on the design and production of agricultural machineries (a combined effort between parties from Nigeria and Austria with emphasis on the Ministries of agriculture, University of Agriculture in Umudike, BOKU, Austria and of course NADEUM to start with)
- Education extension and information sharing between UAU and BOKU as well as a well-thought-out study exchange program that will ensure that the best students from relevant departments are given a scholarship for a semester or a year in BOKU or other similar institutions
- Engaging local established farmers for the practical training of the visiting interns on special farming techniques, machine operations, pest control, etc
- Engaging interesting local investors or participants who are interested in developing the agricultural sector in Nigeria as well as agricultural improvement relationships between Nigeria and Austria. Such persons may be politicians but must enter the program with a declaration of no partisanship as regards the program.
As mentioned earlier, a few institutions will play massive roles in the success of this scheme and a few information about each of them will now be provided.
as the initiator of the scheme can be read about in the following https://nadeum.eu/ and specifically under the project P004 with the link https://nadeum.eu/aktive-projekte/p004-afrika-naher-osten-europa-u-osterreich-wissensaustausch-fur-studenten-ermoglichen/
- Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike. Abia State. Nigeria (or other such institutions of education)https://mouau.edu.ng/
Is being considered as the concerned institute of education in Nigeria and the top students especially from the engineering department https://ceet.mouau.edu.ng/ will be eligible for the scholarships that will see them do a semester or year abroad at the BOKU in Austria as well as internships in a local farm where they can study closely the machinery in use as well as soil science, crops science, animal science as well as different cultures and mentality. There is no rigid decision on this yet as there are many universities of agriculture and a few of them will be considered and contacted.
Courses of interest would be basically the engineering courses related to agriculture such as mechanical, electrical, machine building, civil engineering and so on. Important agriculture courses like crop and animal science, horticulture, agricultural science and the likes will also be part of the core subjects to be considered. However, a few other related courses like landscaping, architecture etc. will also be part of the program.
- Universität für Bodenkultur, (BOKU, Vienna) https://boku.ac.at/en/
Will be the Austrian counterpart of the former learning institution and hopefully form a long term partnership with the Nigerian counterpart and together they can draw up a curriculum for exchange students between both institutes and countries. BOKU has already a lot of courses that are relevant to the ideas of Agro+ and I opine that not so much will be required to get the scheme up and running.
Top students from BOKU who which to enjoy a semester abroad in the tropics and hopefully device new agricultural inventions and products in the Austrian market as well as expand their global cultural experience can use the opportunity for a semester or session in Nigeria.
They can learn about foreign agricultural practices which they can implement on return as well as try to establish new crop produces in the Austrian markets. Crops like yam, cassava and some tropical fruits can be grown here in Austria under special conditions. These conditions would be the main basis of their research during their time at the Institute in Nigeria.
- Local Farmers
On board the scheme in both countries should be local farmers (at least one on each side) whose tasks would be to introduce the exchange students to the actually farming environments, tools and practices of the locality.
The farmers involvement will be to make their farms and equipment accessible to the students who will either work part time as interns in the farms or visit the farms occasionally in practical exercises. The first option is however, the favorable one. At the end of the training period for a set of students, such farmers can either be rewarded with raised funds, an award of participant in developmental strides, or both.
Government ministries (of Agriculture, Youth development etc), Parastatals, Local governments and individuals.
The aim of the scheme is far from complete if tangible development of the potentials of the next generation of youths in terms of agricultural input is not achieved. To meet these goals, it is important that the above mentioned parties are involved and participates fully. One of the major problems facing the future of development in Nigeria and other similar African countries is the mass exodus of brilliant minds that are discovered by the west and offered scholarship to travel abroad and often they never return. It is indeed a minor form of talent tapping and in the long run it will not favor these African nations. Even some such young people that are given the opportunities for self-capacity development by the government or by local companies sees it as a rare opportunity to elope to the glorious west , taking their services with them.
That is why in this case, it will be very important that beneficiaries of this scheme would rather be awarded grants instead of scholarships so that at the end of their training they would serve the purpose for which they would be trained; to develop the agricultural and agro-business potentials of their indigenous nations. Such grants of course would be sourced from the relevant government authorities which will, along with NADEUM, keep an eye on the development of the trainees
- NORD Motors https://nordmotion.com/
and Innoson Vehicles Nigeria (IVM) https://www.innosonvehicles.com/
Nord Motors and Innoson Vehicles are currently the pride of the automation industry in Nigeria with assemblage for high quality automobiles for the Nigerian market and also for the African market in general. Their business prospects in the automobile industry for the next couple of years and decades are really good and they are a big inspiration to other similar industries. Their expected roles in this scheme would be to act not only as a final internship provider for the trainees but also provide a base (a workshop and the required conditions) where the trainees can work with them as recommended staff for recommended projects which will be primarily concerned with the development of agricultural vehicles for the African terrain and markets. This is expected to not only increase their business portfolio but also their credibility and their patriotism in the development of Africa as a whole and fostering trade relationships with new important partners in the west. With the expected cooperation of these industrial giants, we can look forward to the first real manufacturing and distribution o Nigerian made tractors and other heavy-duty agricultural vehicles. This aspect of the scheme however begs the question: What does both countries stand to gain?
- Even though it is easy to spot the benefit of Nigeria from the scheme at a first glance, it may be necessary to outline that of Austria for the sake of clarity. First of all, despite the fact that the assemblage and distributions will be carried out in Nigeria and also distributed from there, the Austrian aspect will be, of course, in charge of manufacturing of all parts. It is a well-known fact that Austria is one of the best countries in terms of manufacturing and Nigeria is currently far from this phase of development. So Austrian manufacturing firms will still be at the center of the whole scheme and can even open branches for seamless and cost effective production in Nigeria.
Nigeria on the other hand will achieve food security as well as job creation which will have the ripple effect of positively affecting the youth and giving them purposes to stay and develop their country and also keeps them away from criminal activities. Agrobusinesss will be developed, and the economy will finally get a desired boost from agricultural activities. More industries will spring up around this and then hopefully local processing of food produces will encourage more agro allied businesses to be established also.
In conclusion, the scheme will bring expected positive results only if all aspects and enough participants gets involved.