Young Africans making farming cool
Ababio Kwame is a young farmer and an entrepreneur from Ghana in West Africa, who, after graduating as a geomatics engineer from a mining school in Ghana decided to start an agribusiness.
He started his agro-business after school, with motivation from his father, when he identified huge deficits in Africa’s agriculture, specifically in oil palm. Kwame is the founder of Green Afro-Palms (GAP) and a multiple award-winning young entrepreneur. He recently won the first prize in the African Development Bank’s AgriPitch competition 2017 – a contest that embodies the dynamism of African youth as future of agriculture on the continent.
27-year-old Kwame and his team at Green Afro-Palms are working on improving the cultivation of palm oil plantations in Ghana (and Africa) using best management practices and processing yields into food and valuable agro-products using technological innovation and agricultural mechanization.
“My dream is to see agriculture as a solution to ending poverty in Africa − with young Africans contributing significantly towards that development. I want to lead my company to assist 5,000 smallholder oil palm farmers to produce and supply 10 million litres of quality and clean palm oils,” he says.
Consumers yearn for affordable, quality and clean oils. The GAP team is supplying 6,000 bags of palm kennel nut to industries for secondary processing and plans to acquire 5,000 hectares of land for plantations in the next five years.
Haowa Bello, 34, is the CEO of Madame Coquette, a line of meticulously handcrafted handbags and small leather goods made in Nigeria.
In addition to leather goods production, Haowa Bello has set up a small cattle farm in Lagos. Her firm, Fula Farms, stands as one of the few dairy farms in Lagos and it supplies small businesses and individuals with raw (fresh) milk and locally produced cheese.
The farm works with families in small clusters and has recently set up a cooperative managing upwards of 50 cows. Fula Farms is supporting and promoting economic empowerment for rural women. It works closely with a group of rural women who produce a specific type of cheese. The cheese is produced and packaged by the women in the communities under the formed cooperative. The role of these women in their various communities is typically under-valued. Yet they not only provide physical and emotional support, their contributions also feed their families.
“Being an agripreneur has changed my life. It empowered me to grow my business from a struggling start up to a well-established brand. This is the time for Africa to engage the youth and to better educate them about the different sectors in agriculture,” she says.
She has a background in economics (Ahmadu Bello University), fashion marketing (Parsons School of Design, New York) and handbag construction (Academia Riaci, Florence).
Mahmud Johnson is the Founder and CEO of J-Palm Liberia, which produces oil-palm-based consumer and industrial products, and works to improve incomes for Liberia’s smallholder oil palm farmers and is helping to increase smallholder incomes by 50-80 percent.
He benefitted from an AfDB-International Institute of Tropical Agriculture capacity building training in business communications and pitching in 2017.
For his work at J-Palm, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia this year inducted Mahmud as an Officer of the Order of the Star of Africa (OSA) – a distinguished national honour.
J-Palm Liberia processes palm kernels into a range of products including Kernel Fresh (organic moisturizer and hair conditioner made of virgin cold-pressed palm kernel oil), Palm Kernel Cake for use as animal feed, and Palm Kernel Shells for use as a cleaner energy source to power industrial boilers. The company is in the process of setting up a plant to add value to Palm Kernel Shells by carbonizing them to create SuperCoal, Liberia’s first brand of clean energy biomass charcoal briquettes.
His message to other young people: “Agribusiness is cool and a desirable career path.”
Mahmud holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Dartmouth College
Lilian Uwintwali is the founder and CEO of MAHWI TECH Ltd., a renowned African IT firm founded in 2011. Her firm provides ICT platforms that serve over 10,000 farmers in Rwanda − linking farmers to markets, banks, insurance companies and extension services.
Her online and mobile-based Agric Platform m-lima www.m-lima.com (formerly known as agro-FIBA platform) that connects smallholder farmers with all key stakeholders in agriculture. This is to ensure that the smallholder farmer benefits from the essential services they need and leverage on emerging opportunities.
Lilian is the 40 Chances Fellow for Rwanda jointly awarded by Howard-G Buffet Foundation, Tony Blair’s AGI (African Governance Initiative) and the World Food Prize Foundation. She was recognized among the Top 3 Young Innovators in Agribusiness across East Africa and Ethiopia in 2016. She is a recipient of many more national and international awards owing to her innovations at MAHWI Tech.
Lilian was recently appointed Board Secretary of the Panafrican EYE (Emerging Young Entrepreneur) www.eyeafrica.org, inspiring a generational shift in the African Agribusiness industry through improved access to technology, innovation, mentorship and finance.
Lilian holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering and Information Technology from the University of Rwanda (Former, Kigali Institute of Science and Technology) and has undergone post graduate trainings with several institutions.
35-year-old Temitope Aroge is the Managing Director of Arog Bio Allied Agro Services Limited, Nigeria. As the chief promoter, the company started 6 years ago with specific focus on agro processing, mechanization and commercial cassava farming.
The company progressed from a 1 million share units to 100 million, and from a 1-hectare farm to a 200-hectare farm in 2017. Agro Bio commenced garri processing five years ago with incremental capacity to cassava chips processing. A 16-ton per day high quality cassava flour production plant is expected to be installed, test run and commissioned on the farm by March 2018.
“I feel fulfilled providing food, creating wealth and employment for young people through agriculture,” he says.
“As young agripreneurs, our company benefitted from the AEHE (Agric Equipment Hiring Center) program of the Dr. Akinwumi Adesina led Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. We are working to increase the tractor ownership from three to 12 with a target of 1,500 hectares in 2018.”
Aroge is a trained physician, community leader and a proud farmer. He is also the Vice-President of Association of Young Agriculture Entrepreneurs in Nigeria − an umbrella body of young agripreneurs.
Manir Umar is a young, focused and determined agripreneur who is passionate about farming. He is the MD/CEO of Deenat Integrated Farms Ltd – created in 2011 to reduce the high level of youth unemployment. Manir got inspired to key into the Agribusiness industry by the former Nigerian Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwuni Adesina, through his numerous youth empowerment programs.
His birds grew from 2,000 to 50,000. His maize farm also increased to 300 hectares in 2017 alone. His other segments also witnessed progressive growth (25,000 table size fish capacity, 35 cows, 30 goats, 23 sheep). Deenat Farms is now a major horse breeding farm in Nigeria (with 20 horses), and a major player in the agricultural equipment hiring enterprise. The firm is the first private company to own a horse race track in the country (Deenat Derby).
He is the President of the Association of Nigerian Agricultural Entrepreneurs (A-NAGROPRENEURS) which mentors and empowers the youth to embrace agriculture as a business.
“My aspiration as a young agripreneur is to become a household name in Nigeria: I want my products to be in every home. I also want to be the catalyst for youth involvement in agriculture throughout Africa,” says Manir,
Manir has a B.A. and a Master’s in Public Administration from Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria.
Joyce Kyalema started the Pumpkin Value Addition Enterprise in 2013.
Her target was to organize vulnerable youth and women in rural areas in Uganda and help them find alternative means of increasing their household income, food security and nutritional values to reduce malnutrition among their children and the surrounding areas.
She developed and implemented a skills building project in pumpkin growing and value addition for youth and women job creation. As a result of the project, youth and women produced plenty of pumpkins. The next phase was value addition. To address this, Joyce formed a company called Josmak International Ltd. Josmak focuses primarily on pumpkin growing and processing and is building a factory to process over 10 different products out of pumpkins.
The firm has obtained an export license from the government of Uganda and targets exports to Ireland, the UK and the United Arab Emirates.
“We produce a variety of quality organic pumpkin products that meet national and international market standards. All these products contain nutritional supplements good for health boosting,” says Joyce, 32.
“I feel good when people tell me that I inspire them. I feel honoured when I see the number of young people who have joined agribusiness because of me. I thank the AfDB for the opportunities it has given me to speak to young entrepreneurs.”
Thato Martin Stimela
Martin has an MSc in Program Management.
His mobile application, mAgri, is transforming the way the farming community interacts and shares agricultural information through cellular (mobile) devices in Botswana. The app is already in use in some African countries, including Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
About 80 percent of the population in Botswana relies on farming for a living, yet they don’t have access to important information such as when to plant, weather updates, or animal diseases.
mAgri helps farmers to access markets and other crucial information they need for their farming activities in addition to having access to e-mails and social networks from simple mobile phones.
Noel Mulinganya graduated from the Catholic University of Bukavu with a Bachelor’s degree in agronomy and crop production in June 2012. Thanks to his commitment to agriculture and his ability to work with farmers, he was awarded a full MSc scholarship by IITA to study soil science (integrated soil fertility management option) at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya, between September 2012 and December 2014.
Noel is the leader of the Kalambo Youth Agripreneurs, a group of 20 young graduates aged between 25 and 35 years from different academic backgrounds engaged in collective agribusiness enterprises in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
From a three-hectare farm, the group has progressively increased its business portfolio along the full agricultural value chains by identifying and developing models for 11 profitable enterprises. These enterprises include: commercial production of root and tubers and grains such as cassava, maize, beans, soybean, sorghum, and maize. Other enterprises include processing for value addition, commercial fish and fingerlings, produce marketing, and service provision. The group is already creating a business network.
“Agribusiness has opened opportunities and avenues in the lives of my colleagues and me in ways we never expected or dreamt about. Agribusiness is really the solution to check youth unemployment in Africa,” he says.
Under his leadership, IKYA has recorded much success with the production of high quality cassava flour which is being exported to Rwanda. Also, as a model group in DR Congo, IKYA has trained over 1,000 women and youth on best agronomic practices and processing techniques.
Noel’s vision is to scale out the IKYA model through the Young Agripreneurs network acting in synergy with different segments of the value chain. He is convinced that in two years’ time, the youth centre will serve many youth and women’s groups and reduce youth unemployment through agribusiness in DR Congo.
Sausthene Guy Ehui
Sausthene Guy Ehui an agronomist and co-founder of ICT4DEV.
“I decided to use my knowledge to help African farmers through ICT. My conviction is that ICT is the best way to produce solutions that will have a better impact,” he says.
Through ICT4DEV, his team developed solutions (www.gelico.ci, www.virtualmarket.ci , SMS Agri Consultant, market information system) for the use of African farmers. The applications help for online management of agricultural cooperatives and create a service relationship between sellers and buyers of agricultural products via web short messaging service (SMS) and a mobile application.
They also created another service, called Agri-advice, which enables farmers to receive advice by SMS on good agricultural practices, weather and prices of agricultural products.
Sesuur Loveth Mile
Sesuur Loveth Mile was born in 1988 in Gboko Benue State, Nigeria.
She has a Bachelor in Agriculture from the University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State. She is the Head of Production and Operations of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture Youth Agripreneurs incubation platform in Abuja, where she supervises all production activities and operations of the group, including fisheries and livestock, crop production and processing activities along the agricultural value chain.
She is the co-founder of CAAS Nigeria Limited, an enterprise involved in grain aggregation and supply. She has her eye on increasing availability of quality grains to meet processing and consumption needs in Nigeria.
“We are working on grain aggregation and supply. We have received practical training on the production of maize, sorghum, soybean, and other crops under the IITA Youth Agripreneur platform in Abuja. We have plans to expand to include more grains and even aggregate tuber in subsequent years of doing business,” she says.
“As an agripreneur, I have been exposed to the wealth embedded in agriculture. I have networked with youths of like mind who in turn have reinforced my drive to provide quality food for Africa.”
Evelyn Ohanwusi is the Interim Head of the Youth in Agribusiness office, a newly institutionalized office at the headquarters of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria.
She is founding member of the IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) program at IITA Ibadan in 2012 and has since become a strong advocate for youth and women in agribusiness.
The IYA model has gained recognition and was adopted by the African Development Bank in the implementation of the Pan-African Youth in agribusiness program – the AfDB’s ENABLE Youth (Empowering Novel Agribusiness Led Employment for youths) program).
Her effort in ensuring that young people get the opportunity to explore and earn a decent living through agriculture has yielded some remarkable results.
Many independent agribusiness enterprises spanned off from the trainings and resource mobilization facilitated by Evelyn and her team.
“My aspiration is to see that the youth I work for and with actually become billionaires and millionaires from agriculture. My dream is to see that my generation helps Africa regain its glory as the food basket of the world,” she says.
“I am amazed at my own level of interest in agriculture. I studied quantity surveying as my first degree, but I never knew agriculture could be more interesting than what I learnt while growing up. Agribusiness is the way for me.”