What we are taught in classrooms as students of agriculture is way different from what is happening on the field. Have you ever experienced employers requesting for a 2-3 years working experience post college/University graduation?
This is the experience of thousands of agricultural graduates that are turned out of our educational institutions on a yearly basis. It’s just a way of life for employers here in Nigeria and some other parts of Africa, especially in the agricultural sector.
Where on earth will a fresh graduate get the needed experience, if not given an opportunity?
I clocked 30 a few months ago. 3 solid decades seems dope but this is not about how I have spent the last thirty years of my life and my experience in agriculture. My family has been involved in farming from inception, I mean from when my parents tied the knot. Coming as the first son after two daughters, automatically, i was born a farmer into a “farmily“. (Farm + Family = “Farmily”) don’t you think this word should be added to the English dictionary to represent smallholder farmers? Their plight sometimes makes farming and famine synonymous.
Studying animal health and production was no accident, though my sojourn into ICT happened because of my quest for a better deal for agriculture trying to avoid its drudgeries, but it later formed my interest to further study agricultural extension and management. A course, in my opinion best combines information and communication technologies with agriculture.
Sorry, I forgot to mention that I attended a Federal College created solely by the Government of my country to raise employers of labor and not job seekers. This was echoed throughout my stay at The Federal College of Animal Health and Production Technology, Moor Plantation, Ibadan Nigeria, but the reverse was the case. This is the situation of most colleges of agriculture and some Universities in my country.
From personal experience, 80% of graduates from agricultural Colleges and Universities find themselves in the job market immediately after graduation, with reasons ranging from no access to startup funds or not even having a clear direction of what to do next. Some pick up menial jobs and others strive to make ends meet.
After years of leaving college, I was happy to know that the Federal Government has introduced entrepreneurship programs into the activities of tertiary institutions and centers were established within these colleges. I paid a visit back to my Alma matter and I was excited to see the magnificent structure dedicated to the entrepreneurship program, even bigger than our administrative building or any of the lecture theaters.
However, my expectations were dammed when I saw arrays of tailoring machines and hair dressing equipment used to train and encourage students in skill acquisition. Barbering, tailoring, bead making were made top priorities…. Sad!
What could have happened to my 6 years in college that the next skill to acquire is barbering?
I felt a deep conviction that we have missed it somewhere and something urgent must be done to redefine agricultural entrepreneurship across the country and beyond. I started working on the Agribusiness Academy platform, an online and offline educational platform that will bridge the gap between the academia and the field of agriculture using information and communication technologies.
Educational technocrats from these institutions will work with agribusiness experts from the field to create courses that will promote entrepreneurship education through an innovative approach for undergraduates, young graduates, and youths involved or interested in agribusiness and also those building a career in agricultural related companies and organizations.
What if an undergraduate interested in poultry farming can take and complete a course in Poultry Business Management before graduation? Won’t he/she be able to successfully run an enterprise and also employ others?
Oh, you said where will he get funds to startup? It’s covered under the course and he has been taught how to raise startup capital to start and assigned to a community of farmers that can aid his business growth. Barbering, tailoring and other skills are wonderful skills to learn, but we should allow those trained to produce our food do their job so that we won’t all go hungry.
The Agribusiness Academy web platform is ready and we are presently building the team to run the venture, but we still have a lot of grounds to cover. The $5000 will assist us to put things in the right place to launch; the venture has been designed to run by itself.
$1000 will be used towards necessary registrations and certifications.
$1700 will be used to acquire multimedia equipment to create our course contents.
$500 will handle our budget for advertorials and promotions both online and offline.
$1800 will serve as running capital and other miscellaneous.
I will gladly appreciate your questions or suggestions in the comment section. Thank you for your time.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Oluwajoba Ayo’ Okediji (Nigeria) – okedijiayo[at]gmail.com
Illustration courtesy: AgroInfoTech Africa
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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