Agribusiness Development and Youth Training in Nigeria Through Education and Entrepreneurship
IFA: What are your responsibilities and projects as a 2SCALE agribusiness advisor in Nigeria?
Thompson Ogunsami: : I help coordinate and manage 2SCALE’s operations, staff and local consultants across 10 states in Nigeria. I identify agribusiness opportunities and multinationals to work with, contribute significantly to the selection of business ideas and develop a country plan for the roll out of 2SCALE activities in Nigeria.
The types of projects we run in Nigeria include: Facilitating value chain development for dairy, cassava, vegetables, rice, soybean, maize and groundnuts; and supporting public private partnership initiatives with leading firms such as Heineken, Nestle and the Artee Group.
IFA: What role can education and entrepreneurship play in developing agribusiness in Nigeria?
Thompson Ogunsami: Education is key for developing agribusiness in Nigeria and an important way to help farmers take a professional approach to agriculture. It has helped many people develop sustainable businesses in the sector.
An entrepreneurial spirit has enabled Nigerians to remain in the agricultural sector despite the challenges it poses. The knowledge they have acquired has given them ideas for agricultural startups, as well as shown them how to gradually increase profits while managing challenges and remaining focused on the prospects. Without learning opportunities and an understanding of entrepreneurial strategies, breaking even in agriculture would be difficult. Through this approach, 2SCALE has worked with 233 SMEs and 74,000 smallholder farmers in Nigeria (including over 3,000 youth and 35% women).
IFA: Can you tell us some more about 2SCALE projects that are focused towards, or have a component, for youth training?
Thompson Ogunsami:When we looked at our partnerships more closely, we found that youth were involved across many different segments of the value chain in various roles. In terms of specific areas for youth training, we decided to focus on developing commercial opportunities in farming and providing services to producers and other value chain actors.
One way to do that we identified was by improving access to finance for youth farmers within cooperatives. This was done by training bank staff and creating an environment for sustainable relationships between actors and financial institutions.
For example, LAPO Micro Finance Bank agreed to develop tailor-made loans for youth. The loans do not require collateral, but use other cooperative members as a guarantee instead.
Another example was the support given to the Kwara Youth Integrated Farmers Organization of Nigeria, across 16 local government areas of Kwara State in Nigeria, which works with youth cooperatives to upgrade their soybean production, a potentially very lucrative crop.
An important final pillar of the university’s agricultural research is an ongoing project to analyze and map soils in countries throughout Africa to better understand their needs and help make more appropriate fertilizers for them.
IFA:How can youth be encouraged to get more involved in agribusiness in Nigeria?
Thompson Ogunsami: One option is to use technology to improve the efficiency of agribusiness. Most youth are technology driven. This interest can be used to support the professionalization and efficiency of the agricultural sector in Nigeria.
Links between other sectors, like engineering and computer science, should be encouraged. For example, by building highly innovative agricultural tools, developing software for agribusiness service delivery etc. This would certainly encourage more youth to participate in agribusiness in Nigeria.
About Thompson Ogunsanmi:
Thompson Ogunsanmi is a Country Agribusiness Advisor for 2SCALE. Thompson helps develop, train and support agribusiness clusters in Nigeria. With extensive experience in in value chain development, planning, agribusiness, gender equity and entrepreneurship, Thompson has previously worked with GIZ, Olam and Cadbury Nigeria Plc.
The Netherlands-funded 2SCALE program is implemented by a three-member consortium comprised of IFDC, ICRA and BoPInc. 2SCALE is an incubator for inclusive agribusiness that aims to improve rural livelihoods and food and nutrition security across nine sub-Saharan countries. 2SCALE offers a range of support services to private partners – companies and farmer groups – enabling them to produce, transform, and supply quality food products to local, national, and regional end-user markets, including base-of-the pyramid (low-income) consumers.