The Farmer Business School (FBS) training aims to strengthen business attitudes, entrepreneurial and management skills of smallholder farmers so they can manage their farming activities better for improved diversified income and nutrition.
Although, FBS trainings have been implemented by other programmes, across various states for smallholder farmers in Nigeria, the participation of young farmers has been very low and not encouraging. Many young farmers see agricultural activities as being antiquated (more of “Old peoples work”) and unprofitable. They prefer to go for more “dignified corporate jobs” in the cities. They do not see farming as a business activity that could generate income. There is a need to change these negative perceptions for rural youths with a prospect to making them agri-preneurs and improve their opportunities to find productive employment in the Agriculture sector.
To achieve this, the SKYE programme in partnership with the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) across 5 states (Cross river, Edo, Ekiti, Ondo and Osun) organized FBS training targeting young farmers. Among the selected trainers engaged to deliver the training were N-Power graduates in the ADP who had previously gone through an FBS training and mentorship programme. The five-day training was organized in rural communities with at least 80% and 30% participation for youths and women respectively. The training focus was to ensure impacting knowledge of basic business and managerial skills that could be applied to any agricultural activity, irrespective of the value chain.
Since the training commenced in November 2019, 973 persons (610-Male, 363-Female) have been trained. 89% of this number are young farmers. The major lessons learnt spanned through;
- The principles of farming as a business,
- basics of human nutrition and farm management for a balanced diet,
- investment strategies based on cost-benefit analysis,
- financial management,
- benefits of quality produce and membership in producer organizations.
The FSB training manuals which contained templates that could be used in the future for record keeping, financial planning calendar, cost-benefit analysis amongst others were given to the trainees.
Young farmers who were initially disinterested before the training showed more zeal to venture into Agri-business. Each group of the trainees were formed into groups which would be officially registered into cooperatives. This would enable the farmers to implement effective group dynamics; bulk purchase of inputs, group sales, group contributions and projects; all for the overall benefit of the group and the individuals.
Before FBS training, I was into cassava and yams only. After the training, I was taught the importance of planning, record keeping and diversification. From December 2019, I decided to go into poultry, I stocked 20 birds. I have started keeping the records of labour and inputs I use. I take planning of my farm activities very serious now.