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Agriculture

Letter to a Farmer

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Wheat Farmer (shutterstock)

Dear Farmer,

You are my hero. You might think your life is mundane, perhaps even redundant, however for millions like me on the outside looking in, you are extraordinary.

For many of us who are not farmers, we drive past your swaying fields and hum about spacious skies and kernels of corn.

You till the soil from morning till night. Waking up every day to ensure the labour of your hands is coming to fruition. You are the epitome of hard work and determination and although that may sound cliche, it is true.

Farmer, you are indeed wonderful. You plant seeds in the soil and watch them grow. You help to build nations and communities both at home and abroad.

Although policies remain in place to stifle your trade or limit the way you import and export goods, you stay committed to your trade and it’s robust returns.  

For the days, months and years that you toil, for the food you give and for the way you inspire millions around the world, I say thank you. 

Please don’t let anyone tell your story, especially those who have no idea what it’s like to produce their best work.

If many of us could work from dusk to dawn, then receive one-fourth of the money that the crop was worth only a year ago, we would not last in our professions.

I doubt most of us would stay in our trades if we received one-fourth pay for our best efforts. 

Thank you for your dedication and contribution to society. Thank you for making the world a better place. Your commitment needs to be emulated by many.

Hopefully, you would pass the torch of your excellence to the younger generation and give them a chance to fill the fields with robust crops and produce.

Your work reminds us that farming is indeed the essential work that needs to be done. 

Sincerely,

A loyal consumer. 

Also Read: Interview With Deborah Ogwuche, Founder Of Food Channel Africa

By Sughnen Yongo


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Agriculture

Getting women in the driver’s seat of Africa’s agribusiness revolution

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Monica Musonda, CEO Java Foods shares a joke with colleague as they package Supa Cereal Bags (Photo: AfDB)

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, November 25, 2019- Monica Musonda, CEO of Zambian food processing company Java Foods,  certainly faced hurdles in her rise to the top, but she overcame them.

“Although the barriers to entry for women can be frustrating, they are often basic and relatively easy to resolve,” she said, playing down her struggles. “My climb up the agribusiness ladder has been challenging but definitely worthwhile.”

Musonda, whose company produces affordable and nutritious food snacks made from local ingredients, is one of just a handful of female agripreneurs who have successfully broken through the proverbial glass ceiling in Africa’s agribusiness industry.

Women are the backbone of Africa’s agricultural sector. From farm to fork, African women are players along the entire agricultural value chain, be it as farmers, livestock breeders, processors, traders, workers, entrepreneurs or consumers. While their influence on the continent’s growing agribusiness industry is undeniable, more solutions are needed to address the gender-specific challenges they face to boost their participation.

The average African woman is a budding entrepreneur either by choice or by circumstance. According to the  Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Women’s Report 2016/17, the continent has the highest percentage of female entrepreneurs in the world, with one in four women starting or managing a business. The agribusiness industry is often the natural focus of this entrepreneurial drive.

Across the continent, women dominate as primary processors post-harvest, as traders with bustling market stalls, as owners of fast food restaurants and with increasingly frequency as manufacturers of packaged ready-to-eat food products. Yet despite this dynamism, female-led agribusinesses tend to remain small, fragmented and informal in nature. They struggle to sustain and scale-up their agribusinesses into well-organized profitable enterprises.

Admittedly, the challenging business environment in many African countries including poor infrastructure and unreliable legal and regulatory systems affects all business activities of both men and women. However, in addition women-led businesses must also grapple with a number of gender-specific constraints, inhibiting their expansion into more lucrative market segments.

Firstly, African women often lack the technical know-how.  Despite the gains in female education on the continent, highly productive agribusinesses require specialized vocational and technical skills in fields such as food safety, food conservation, packaging and product certification which many African women do not readily possess.

Access to finance is the most frequently cited obstacle by African SMEs. Women entrepreneurs face multiple difficulties in securing funding mainly due to lack of collateral in the form of land and other tangible assets and a high-risk perception. According to the African Development Bank, an estimated $42 billion financing gap exists for African women across business value chains, including $15.6 billion in agriculture alone. Women are forced to rely on personal savings and family loans which are rarely enough to fund their businesses to scale.

Thirdly, socio-cultural barriers and stereotypes persist. African women remain the primary caregivers in families meaning that managing those responsibilities while growing a thriving business can become a difficult balancing act.

Over the last two decades, many governments and development institutions have rolled out programs to promote access to finance, agricultural inputs and provide technical support and business training to female agripreneurs. The African Development Bank recently set up the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA), a bold pan-African initiative to bridge the financing gap facing women. It adopts a three-pronged approach centered on improving access to finance, providing technical assistance and strengthening the enabling environment.

It often takes very little to make a difference. The capital injection required by the majority of female led SME agribusinesses on the continent is typically less than $50,000. And women have consistently proven to be more credit-worthy than men, usually paying back loans within agreed timeframes. Successful solutions by women for women such as microfinance and saving groups, peer-to-peer training and information sharing should also be reinforced and taken to scale.

More of such initiatives are urgently needed across the continent. Solutions must be based on in-depth engagement with the women business owners themselves to properly understand their frustrations and needs. Tailored programs designed to specifically address these pain points are critical. The Global Gender Summit is a timely opportunity to drive this forward.

Women are central for Africa’s agricultural transformation to be successful, sustainable and inclusive. More African female agripreneurs must be supported to grow and progressively transition into the business segments of agricultural value chains which are most profitable. It has been proven time and time again that when African women thrive the entire society shares in those dividends.

Also Read: Meet Sivi Malukisa, The Congolese Entrepreneur Whose Food Startup Is Promoting DRC Cuisine

By: Mariam Yinusa and Edward Mabaya are Principal Economist and Manager, respectively, in the Agribusiness Development Division of the African Development Bank.

African Development Bank Group (AfDB)

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Agriculture

These Agricultural Businesses Do Not Involve Farming

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Agriculture is one of those vocations that has received a lot of buzz lately. Not only are Millennials increasingly becoming aware of the fact that a career in agriculture can be rewarding both socially and otherwise, but there are also a lot of resources that are becoming available to people about agriculture and its diverse branches. Here are five careers in agriculture that you can get involved in. It is important to know that these don’t require getting your hands dirty with any farming at all. Depending on you live in, some of these careers may be more lucrative than others, but here are some ideas:

Agriculture Blogger

With so many platforms such as Quora, WordPress, Medium, and varying social media platforms, writing has become a necessary skill, especially in the information age. Although it takes a long time to make money from a blog, an agricultural company that genuinely wants to get its message across to the world needs a good copywriter, someone who can document the beauty of agriculture in all of its glory. If you already work for an ag-based business, consider asking for more earning power by honing your writing skills even if you haven’t learned the art. If you can prove yourself as a talented writer in the agriculture industry, there are numerous opportunities out there to make money.

Landscaping Service

 Landscaping does take a lot of time and hard work. Although it is not the most idyllic form of agriculture, it is possible to make a lucrative living from mowing lawns, for example. Although not many people enjoy the art of mowing lawns, if you get proficient at it and have the right equipment, it is possible to minimize expenses and grow from there. If you’re looking for a place to specialize, there might be potential there. This is another one where you can start very small, and with some hard work and with creative marketing, you can scale into a real business!

Pest Control Specialist. 

Farmers find that among the most nagging issues that they face is the infestation of pests on heir farmland. Many large-scale farmers are more than happy to pay pest control specialists to assist them with taking care of the pests that may plague their farms. Perhaps you have a specific pest problem in your area that you can help solve for local landowners. It may be very well worth the effort.

Agric Education

There is a vast demand for workers with knowledge specific to Urban Agriculture. Many farmers offer tours as a way to supplement their income; however, few of them provide education on how to grow. Everyone is looking for something to do on evenings and weekends. If you can put together an exciting presentation to show people how they can grow at home — they will buy equipment, nutrients, and replacement parts from you. You could also take it one extra step further and sell rooted plants and seeds as well.

Consulting

Consulting and designing systems for restaurants and commercial businesses. Firms that agric-focused have been a lucrative form of income for a few years. Most of these businesses usually involve selling a shipping container that is pre-configured to grow. It is a complicated feat, but not an impossible one to start. A more challenging route, on the other hand, would be to design and install systems for residential use.

Also Read Interview With Deborah Ogwuche, Founder Of Food Channel Africa

Agriculture shouldn’t be restricted to the soil only. There are many ways to get involved with Agriculture either as a side gig or a full-time hobby. In fact, many people retire to agriculture-based careers these days. Are you thinking of breaking into the agricultural sector? Which track would you follow? Leave your comments in the comment section below!

By: Sughnen Yongo/farmcrowdy

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Agriculture

Farmcrowdy Now In Niger State with 1000 Farmers

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Farmcrowdy began with a goal to empower rural farmers across Africa and we are doing so one Nigerian state at a time. We have currently empowered rural farmers in 15 states, with Niger state being the latest addition in our operations. Here are some noteworthy facts about Niger state:

  1. Niger state is the largest state in Nigeria, bigger than ten states combined. Mashegu LGA in Niger state is bigger than Lagos and Anambra state combined.
  2. It is located in the middle belt region of the country with a population of over 4 million.
  3. Niger state consists of two major ethnic groups; the Gbagyi and Nupe.
  4. Niger state is Known as the Power State because it houses two of Nigeria’s hydroelectric dam, Kainji Dam (the largest electricity generating dam) and Shiroro dam.
  5. One of the longest rivers in Africa, River Niger, is located in this state.

Another interesting fact to note about Niger state is that the major occupation of the people is farming and fishing.

We are going to empower 1000 rural farmers of Niger state through our rice farm project. This farm, will however be different from other farms as we will be adopting the dry season farming approach for this particular project.

One of the best ways to improve food security in a nation is to ensure the availability of food all year round. However, factors such as limited rainfall lead to poor crop yield and food shortage. Therefore, one of the best ways to meet food demand with supply in spite of the unpredictability of rain, is by changing strategy and adopting this new approach.

This simply means that our rice farms will not be dependent on rain as a source of water. Therefore, in instances when it doesn’t rain or it doesn’t rain enough, the rice farms will still be catered for.  Dry season farming is not limited to dry season alone. It can also be adapted in cases where a farmer doesn’t want to be dependent on rain for irrigation.

We are determined to increase food production and security in Nigeria and expanding to a new state with dry season farming brings us a step closer. It ensures food availability and better pricing all year long. The dry season farming method will enable our farmers plant rice all year long, thus increasing rice production and reducing rice importation.

Also Read Meet Sivi Malukisa, The Congolese Entrepreneur Whose Food Startup Is Promoting DRC Cuisine

The farmers we are working with in Niger state will also be provided adequate funding and training to get the highest yield by harvest time.

Click here to start sponsoring our rice farms. When you sponsor a farm, you will receive updates during the farm cycle and returns after harvest on your sponsorship. You will also be empowering rural farmers to receive adequate input, support, and training needed to cultivate crops and make money to support themselves.

You will ultimately be contributing to the agricultural landscape in Nigeria.

Uduak Ekong/Farmcrowdy

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