When Ayotomiwa Yinka Ogunsua got a job as a loan officer at a microfinance bank in Ibadan, Nigeria, he thought he had done well for himself. Then, he spotted an online advertisement for a youth agricultural training programme and signed up, owing to his interest in farming as a hobby.
Selected to interview for a place in the poultry rearing course, Ogunsua promptly quit his bank job and, he says, prayed he would get in. “I knew I wanted to follow my passion for agriculture full-time,” the 29-year-old Nigerian said.
Ogunsua did win a place in the course which was organized last March by the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT). The TAAT programme was organised by the African Development Bank alongside other partners including CGIAR, a global research partnership. TAAT works to harness high-impact agricultural technologies to boost crop output and create viable opportunities for workers and entrepreneurs.
Soon after participating in the programme, Ogunsua bought 50 chicks and started a business.
“After the training, I saw agriculture as a proper business, not just a passion. I realized this is something I must make income from, as something to pay my bills – something that I can build on as an enterprise,” Ogunsua said via telephone from his farm, as roosters crowed in the background.
He went on to explain that the training gave him the technical know-how to expand his startup, Vive Verde, from water, agricultural and environmental services into livestock production. Atops Farms, Ogunsua’s poultry business, grew to include 500 birds by early 2021. Then something wonderful happened.
“We sold out of birds for Easter,” Ogunsua said, noting that he makes more money from agribusiness than he did working as a loan officer.
As head of Atops Farms, Ogunsua does his part to advocate for Nigeria’s agriculture sector, often appearing on radio and television programmes all in a bid to change society’s perception of farming as a pastime.
“Farming, for one, is to make profit. It is also to ensure food security of the land, or the nation – of the continent. If we must satisfy Africa’s food security with our growing population, then there must be high commercialization of agriculture. That is modern farming,” he recently told Inspiration 100.5 FM radio.
As at the time of writing this story, he is expecting a shipment of new chicks to restock his coop, and while he waits for his chickens to mature, also rears turkeys, rabbits and goats to generate cash flow and build his agricultural business.
“I am still a small farmer, but by the grace of God I am growing and I will get there,” he said…
The African Development Bank’s Director for Agriculture and Agro-Industry, Dr. Martin Fregene, said TAAT has the resources, scientific and technological expertise, as well as proven implementation plans to benefit millions of African farmers like Ogunsua.
“As the continent’s leaders gather for the High-level Dialogue on Feeding Africa at the end of the month, Ogunsua’s experience serves as an inspiration for governments to commit to investing in Africa’s food systems,” Fregene said.
The CGIAR’s International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, based in Ibadan, southwestern Nigeria, provides TAAT training courses that offer capacity building and technical assistance to African “agripreneurs”.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Click here to register and to learn more about the High-level Virtual Dialogue on Feeding Africa on 29-30 April 2021.