Igbogbo students’ union organised a webinar on the 14th of August 2021 to commemorate International youth day worldwide.
The online empowerment programme which aimed at the orientation of youths in the area of agriculture was themed ‘Transforming Food System: Youth Innovation For Humans & Plenary Health’, with the topic: Agriculture As The Bedrock Of Our Economic Development’.
It featured Mr Abbas Agbaje (ESG Manager At Infracredit) as a guest speaker guiding the students’ union platform on measures to enhance the agricultural sector in fostering the growth of Lagos economy.
Below is the complete excerpts (delivered by Mr Abbas Agbaje) from the online session (via WhatsApp) which spanned over an hour.
“Agriculture is a familiar term to all of us. Through our primary and secondary education, we have learnt about agriculture, And for most of us, it was just a subject in the School Curriculum, all we just need to do is read it and pass the exams”
“It is a failure on the part of our institutions and political leaders that most young people only know agriculture in the book. We often hear that Nigeria is a monolithic economy, I.e. dependent on one major source of revenue”
“We have been intellectually cheated by a jaundiced educational system, we have been made to think that agriculture is dirty. When you read the history of Nigeria before 1955, that was just before oil was detected in the country, agriculture was the mainstay of our economy. Our forefathers lived as hunters, fishermen in agrarian communities”
The Groundnut Pyramid in the North has become a fable, but it was a strong contributor to the GDP. The Cocoa House in Ibadan is a testament to the invaluable contributions of agriculture to Nigeria’s economy. The North was also notable for hides and skin. The East for the oil palm, you probably have heard an unsubstantiated story of how Indonesia came to collect palm seeds from Nigeria to develop its oil palm industry”
“There is so much in our history that lends credence to the unique status of agriculture in our yesteryear economic advancement. The challenges that bedevil us lies in a psychological plague: instantaneous gratification of desires. We want to grow rich fast, so we took attention away from agriculture and focused on building oil rigs”
“Now we have the oil, but we can’t eat it. This is why we have to import the things we can produce locally. This explains why our NAIRA has less value compared to the dollar, We have a situation of Trade Deficit. When a country imports from a foreign country, the importing country needs to exchange its currency for that of the exporting country (say the USA). We import rice, maize, sugar and even the Oil that is produced locally just because we can’t refine it here in Nigeria”
“As Lagosians, what’s the current share of agriculture in Lagos’s GDP. We can survive without Agriculture, all that we subsist on come from agriculture one way or the other. Urbanisation is increasing reducing available lands for agriculture in Peri-urban environs. Yet, there are immense opportunities for us to optimise the benefits of agriculture”
“In 2014, I was in Brazil for training and I was impressed by their vast landscape of cultivated fields. The greenery was superb, both intimidating and inspiring at the same time. I knew Nigeria will struggle to reach that level of development only the Youth act with vision. This speaks to a category. What is intended is that you share the source of that figure. It is crucial to cite sources of data to affirm its authenticity“
“In 2016, I was at Kew Botanical Garden in Wakehurst, United Kingdom. The facility houses over 20,000 seeds that can be used to regenerate the world if there was an explosion. It has an underground chamber that ensures that no explosion can affect the facility. Some think of the future, some think about the future and some think for the future, which are you?”
“Nigeria’s population is growing and unless we focus on agriculture there will be a problem of food security. It is important to note that you don’t have to view agriculture as DIRTY, there is a Value Chain Approach to it. Technology is redefining how agriculture is being practised and you can play a huge role in this area. Many people who run from getting their hands dirty, end up getting their minds dirty and their lives into pity”
“The government is now taking steps to improve local production in agriculture and other industrial areas. For our GDP to improve, we need to produce what our people need. Ask around, restaurant business makes sense in Lagos. Do you know how many Ogunfe gets killed in Lagos every day? How many pepper soup joints? How many Shawarma spots?”
“These products don’t fall from heaven! They are the outputs of people who have invested their time and money in agro-businesses. How many eggs do Lagosians eat per day?
What tons of vegetable is consumed per day?
How many kg of catfish is consumed per day? Why do you think prices of foodstuff increased in the past months?”
“The word Farmer should not sound unattractive, there are billionaire farmers.
What matters is your approach to your chosen path. There is nothing that says each family should not have a farm, from where they can get veggies and smaller food crops”
“Remember the law of demand and supply, let’s apply it here. If each family has a farm, we will only need to buy what we need from the market. Therefore, the law of demand and supply applies. The higher the price, the lower the demand; vice versa. The higher the price, the higher the supply and vice versa. There will be price control, hikes in prices of food will be curtailed. Our dependence on foreign products will reduce”
“We will eat healthier food, not genetically engineered and chemically-grown food. So, Let’s have your views on how youth can improve Nigeria’s economic potential through agriculture”
“Would you be considering agriculture as part of your personal lives? We need knowledge, but more importantly, we need actions. You are young and intelligent, the solutions to our current and future challenges lies in how you choose to use your energy, time and knowledge”
“Youth is not forever, it is something you lose gradually. Don’t bask in the euphoria of “I am still Young”, you are young and strong, but you won’t be young and strong forever. Food security is everybody’s problem. Our hungry neighbours are a potential source of danger for us unless there is enough to go around”
“Youths need to drive the pace of agriculture, Nigeria needs you, Lagos is counting on you. Rather than just complain, find a way to contribute and complement. Instead of cursing and lamenting, find a way to envision a better world and lead by example”