Powered by Support4AfricaSMEs, The African Farmers Stories, tells the stories of African farmers, the unsung heroes of the Covid19 pandemic, through interviews on social media platforms, sharing their challenges and victories.
In this edition of The African Farmers’ Stories tweet chat, hosted by Edobong Akpabio of Agrio Centre, features Aderonke Aderinoye, founder of Agrihub Nigeria. She holds certificates in Market and Social Research, and in Agriculture, Economics and Nature. She is an alumnus of the US Consulate International Visitors Leadership Programme and the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme, a winner of the WIMBIZ Impact Investment award, a nominee for The Future Awards in Agriculture, and a global G.A.P certified farm assurer.
Aderonke is passionate about building capacity in the agricultural sector and improving the Nigerian economy by boosting rural development, and her project, Young Farmers Incubator Programme, trains youth, with a goal to raise 50,000 new generation agribusiness professionals by 2025.
Aderonke believes Africa has the potential to feed the world, and this was one of her inspirations to go into the agri-food sector. She also believes that smallholder farming as it currently exists cannot be effective enough to feed the nation, and that agriculture needs more investment and not necessarily more farmers. She notes that agriculture in Nigeria can be truly efficient through focus on the stimulation and development of large-scale commercial farm holdings and agro-processing parks, so that we extract the most value in naira per square metre of production in the most sustainable way. She is contributing to this vision with plans to build agrihubs across the country and to expand to other African countries, so that agricultural value chains are less fragmented and more value is captured.
Aderonke started in agriculture without prior training and built up her knowledge by understudying with older farmers, and training with international agencies such as COLEACP and 2SCALE that facilitate trainings and access to networks and information for agribusinesses. These contributed significantly to capacity building for Aderonke and her staff, but she emphasizes that business owners must be willing to put in work and get their hands dirty to maximise the benefits of training with such organisations.
Agrihub has been involved in producing orange fleshed sweet potatoes, a super food with the potential to fight malnutrition due to its high levels of vitamin A and a low glycemic index, and is running trials for large scale production and to introduce the crop to other farmers.
Aderonke is also involved in agro-energy, using community engagement and partnerships with other organisations to develop solar mini-grids in rural areas to power agro-processing activities and develop energy efficient agro-processing equipment. She has extensive experience in engaging young people, and is passionate about youth involvement in agribusiness. She believes such engagement starts with encouraging critical thinking in schools, and creating avenues for youth to harness the power of imagination for problem solving, so that they can dream big, set goals, be audacious, and believe in their ability to make a difference.
Speaking on the constraints that women face in the sector and how it contributes to underperformance, Aderonke acknowledges that African culture excludes women from land ownership, finances, education, market access and more. A cultural change is required first – educational, religious and traditional institutions need to be brought in to proffer solutions so that women can truly be empowered.
Africa is not producing the talent needed to revolutionise its agricultural sector enough to feed the world, because it does not yet have the farmer of the future who is multidisciplinary, vibrant, innovative, business and technology savvy, and values sustainability. Aderonke opines that there is a need for visionary governments with clear plans for the agricultural sector, and genuine willpower, integrity and discipline to commit to these plans, systems that clearly capture farmers’ data and activities for proper planning, and partnerships across the value chain and across sectors.
In order to join the global stage, she notes that Africa needs more visionaries who can build audacious businesses, needs more investments in human capacity, rural-based innovation, infrastructural development, and platforms to tell more of their own authentic stories.
Aderonke concludes by emphasizing that farmers alone cannot feed the world – engineers, microbiologists, biochemists, photographers, food bloggers, governments, educational systems, financial institutions, the energy sector, legal systems and families all have roles to play to ensure that Africa feeds itself.
For further information about Aderonke Aderinoye, founder of Agrihub Nigeria, click HERE.
The African Farmers’ Stories series is brought to you by Support4AfricanSMEs. Tweet interviews by Edobong Akpabio of Agrocentre. Interview edited by Oluchi Buchi-Njere. http://www.support4africasmes.com/