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Youth Support in Agriculture, Important in our time…My story

By Samuel Kalu, from NigeriaIn most developing countries of the world, Agriculture is regarded as a low class profession. Children often want to become engineers, Doctors, Lawyers, and so on, but only few want to become farmers. Even those who want to be farmers are mostly discouraged by their parents who fear they will not get a good job after school; this however wasn’t the case with me as for several years I have been involved in one way or the other in farming.Once I started learning my right from left, I can still remember my parents taking me to the farm on the weekends, we would leave every early in the morning and stay there until close to noon. Doing various agricultural farm practices by ourselves, from bush clearing/burning to making of heaps/mounds/bed to planting (the part I always enjoyed). I always love planting corn/maize (even up till now) and as I grew older I learned how to plant yam, cassava, pineapple, cocoyam and other crops.We grew several food crops in our farms: Cassava, Yam, water yam, three leaved yam, coco yams, Maize, Pineapple, melon, fluted pumpkin, broad leaf pumpkin, green amaranth, mint leaf, bitter leaf, pepper(sweet and chili), garden egg. I guess you might think we have one big farm but no, we had several small farms some within home (at the backyard) others far from home (but walk able distance though).As I grew older I loved farming, however I wanted to become an engineer like my father who is a trained Telecommunication Engineer by profession but who was a Farmer after working hours and on weekends. However that dream was to change in late 2004 when results for the Pre –University Degree programme that I has just completed were released. I crossed the cut-off mark however to my surprise I was offered to study Soil Science and Meteorology (called Soil and science and Agroclimatology then). It wasn’t what I wanted to study then so I tried all means possible to get a change to another course, all to no avail.During holidays I returned back home to assist my parents in one way or the order applying my technical skills in Agriculture to help them improve their produce. I was very happy when suddenly my initial Final year research work was changed such that I worked on the three plantation crops: Pineapple, Oil Palm and Rubber and how some Physical and chemical properties of the soil affect their growth.That came very handy as I was always used to Pineapple, I made extensive research on the best soil conditions necessary for pineapple growth and after the project I returned home and implemented this new research. This led to a bumper harvest during the season, around June 2010. When I returned home I worked at the pineapple orchard making sure that the soil was in optimum condition, adding the right manure and pruning the sucker so that the fruit will grow bigger(one of the techniques I learnt in my research).The average Pineapple we harvested around December that year 2010 was about 2kg in weight as against less than 1.8Kg previously. I was very happy as my innovation really proved to work out well and my Parents were very happy too as they were initially skeptical about how the new technique will improve the pineapple size (since they haven’t practiced the method themselves).As youths in Agriculture, we need to support our parents in their farms, add our own technical know-how either in the best practices for the land preparation, planting, weeding or marketing of crops or the raising and marketing of animals as the case may be.Agriculture is not an Old people’s profession, Agriculture is for the young and vibrant generation, what happens when this old farmers are gone, will we then go hungry?