For so many years, the agriculture sector has been the mainstay of Africa’s economy until it was recently overtaken by the services sector. Many development analysts have said agriculture is the surest way the continent can escape from extreme hunger and unemployment.
However, the challenge confronting many of the continent’s youth who want to go into farming is the lack of access to capital, logistical constraint and other incentives. For instance, in Europe and America, farmers enjoy subsidies from the government but the situation is not so in many African countries.
Farmers are virtually on their own and what makes it worse is that they face competition from cheap imported frozen chicken, fish and other agricultural products from western capitals.
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Therefore, for one to venture into full-time farming in Africa, it takes not only courage but true love for the profession. That’s exactly how Ayodele Pamela felt when she wanted to start poultry farming in Nigeria.
“I never had the tiniest of intentions of going into farming at all,” Pamela told thefounders. “In fact, I would have strongly disputed it if I had been told that I would ever be involved in farming.”
Her comments reflect the general lack of interest in farming among a new generation of African youth. Despite the lack of interest, the sector remains the second-largest employer and still attracts a considerable number of young people.
Pamela started her poultry business on the back of buying catfish and eggs. One day, she saw a vacant land, asked for the price, purchased it and commenced fish farming on the land. She later bought 100 Layer Chicks to start her poultry farm.
“Having nowhere to house the chicks, I begged someone to allow me keep the chicks with him, then I go to feed them,” Pamela said. “When the chicks started laying, I just used to dash it out.”
Her husband impressed on her to start selling the eggs since there is a market for them. This would not only let her earn some income, but it will help her recover the money she invested in feeding the chicks.
“Whenever the eggs reach 10 creates, I’ll sell them; I then noticed that this was a profitable venture, that’s when I now built a suitable housing for them, then I moved 100 birds there,” Pamela said. “After my husband supported me to get 500 birds to add to the existing ones,” she added.
According to her, she starting her fish farming and poultry business having no knowledge of it. “I practiced with my own chicks and fishes, no prior learning at all,” she said.
One of the recurring challenges confronting Pamela is the supply glut in the industry. She said due to excess supply, she is sometimes forced to drop her price in order to sell. She is, however, “still very much strong” in the business and has even expanded.