By Grace Muinga
It is uncommon that a group of university graduates would be attracted to agriculture as a career of choice — a field that is shunned by educated youths in Nigeria. Path P, a group of 15 university and polytechnic graduates, from Oyo State in Nigeria is defying the norm to engage in agriculture as a business – and is already reaping the benefits. The group approached AATF – thorough the Cassava Mechanisation and Agro-processing Project (CAMAP) project to assist them in mechanising their 40 ha cassava field.
The goal of the Cassava Mechanisation and Agro-processing Project (CAMAP), coordinated by African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), is to enhance cassava production and processing technologies for sustainable improvements in food security, incomes and livelihoods for farmers, processors, and marketers in the cassava sector. The project is linking Path P youth group to mechanisation services while building their capacity to do farming as a business based on best cassava agronomic practices.
“This is the first time that I am witnessing the operations of the harrow thanks to CAMAP project. We never imagined that this could be possible, this is indeed a unique revolution for cassava in Nigeria,” Said Pat P group leader, Abdulrazak Waheed, in appreciation of the project.
“Our access to these set of technologies has rekindled our hope and motivated us to see farming as a real business rather than just a way of life,” Mr Waheed added.
In its formative stages, the youth group leased out 40ha of land while CAMAP provided mechanisation services like ploughing, harrowing, planting, spraying and planting. CAMAP working with the group provide the youth with practical training on machine operation and maintenance in addition to providing security for the farm against cattle grazers in the area.
The joint cassava production between CAMAP project and Path P group will serve as a model farm to Oyo state offering mechanisation training. The new state has not experienced cassava mechanisation and will have the advantage of experiencing how mechanisation works while offering the youth in the state an opportunity to generate income and to pursue farming as a business.
According to Mr David Ayodele, CAMAP coordinator, the partnership is in line with CAMAP business model that aims to involve youth in mechanisation – training them on machine maintenance and service provision while generating funds to plough back to the project.
“At the end of the partnership, CAMAP will share the proceeds with the youth where they will benefit at 20% while the project gets 80% which will be re-directed to the maintenance of the machines and on boarding new smallholder farmers,” Said Mr Ayodele.
The youth intend to use their proceeds to buy the land instead of leasing and in turn own their sets of machines for mechanisation.