Agriculture Beyond Food
Edobong Akpabio is an agro-entrepreneur by vocation and a business…
The concept of Agriculture Beyond Food (ABF) seeks to promote agriculture for purposes other than food and feed. In the ABF agenda, it is believed that agriculture permeates every area of life and economic activities. Therefore, it is the objective of the ABF to identify as many of these areas and activities for development in the agribusiness bouquet.
Apart from the avalanche of skills and abilities that will be further unleashed, it is believed that the ABF has the singular potential to address nearly, if not, all of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are billed to transform the world. They are as follows;
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being
GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal
The ABF agenda will provide limitless opportunities for citizens’ participation in Nigeria, especially the youth, in their careers and businesses, as well as diverse prospects for poverty elimination, wealth creation and gender empowerment programmes. Let’s take a look at some of the activities identified as being very profitable and sustainable;
With so much interest, participation and investment in the agriculture sector, it is about time some serious attention is paid to educational activities in the area of training and capacity building for students, entrepreneurs (potential and existing), employees, investors, extension services providers, etc. Like other professions, there should opportunities for internship, exchange programme, etc, which can be provided by institutions and entrepreneurs in the business of and/or career in agro-education.
Genre-specific media has come to stay, globally and locally. So, when we hear about Channels TV, we remember News; Brilla FM – Sports; Iroko TV – Movies; MTV – Music; etc. So, maybe it is time to establish 24/7 agro-content media platforms – newspapers, magazines, radio, television, social media, etc, like foreign channels such as Nat Geo Wild, Animal Planet, etc. Allied activities like photography, videography, documentaries, cartoons, careers in production (and post-production), celebrities like On-Air Personalities (OAPs), presenters, etc, will get a big boost.
Today’s agriculture sector is already experiencing operational (machinery and equipment), as well as innovative technologies (aquaponics, hydroponics, aeroponics, greenhouse, screen-house, drones, etc). Apps are being created, almost daily, to make communication, operations, market access, easier and better for agro-preneurs. There are developments on better storage facilities and Artificial Intelligence (AI) but there’s room for more. For instance, there is the need for technologies to manage the effects of climate change. A lot of the current technologies are not affordable by the majority of agro-preneurs, especially smallholder farmers in the rural areas. Depending on the sophistication of the technology, poor infrastructure could render then unusable. So, simple and affordable technologies are desperately needed to drive development and expansion in the sector right now.
- Recreational Agriculture
This is agriculture designed for pleasure, leisure, amusement, companionship, fashion, security, forensics and sport, etc. They include ornamental plants which are grown for decorative purposes in gardens and landscape design projects, as houseplants, cut flowers and specimen display (Wikipedia). The cultivation of ornamental plants is called floriculture.
Recreational livestock are usually domesticated animals that have been tamed and kept for work, or as pets, or for their leather (fashion), etc. They include the horse, donkey, cattle, camel, dog, cat, sheep, birds (peacock, parrot, etc), fish (gold fish, electric fish, etc). There are opportunities to train animals to assist people living with disability (PLWDs); help law enforcement officials to detect criminal, as well as espionage activity; etc.
Just imagine the volume of productive activities that can be generated from this area, from making of pots, aquarium, cages, baskets, markets, medicines, and lots of other paraphernalia. It can be huge!
Agricultural Engineering is the area of engineering concerned with the design, construction/fabrication and improvement of farming equipment and machinery. Agricultural engineers integrate technology with farming. For example, they design new and improved farming equipment that may work more efficiently, or perform new tasks (environmentalscience.org). Agro-preneurs in Nigeria are in desperate need of simple, affordable and functional implements for production and processing activities and there are huge opportunities for steel works, wood works, foundries, etc.
Agro-energy is the energy derived from agricultural activities, through their production of biomass by means of energy crops, by-products and agricultural waste (Futura-Sciences). Sources of agro-energy include solar, wind, hydro, bio-fuel, bio-gas, just to mention a few. Green (renewable and alternative) energy is the rave of the moment as there is the global consciousness and determination to seek other means of energy apart from fossil fuel and hydrocarbons.
According to The Alternative Daily, the benefits of renewal energy include the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; job creation; diversification of energy supply; improvement in public health; income savings, just to mention a few.
Other ABF areas include agro-tourism, agro-medicine, wastes utilization, agro-services, environmental conservation, etc.
ABF will go a long way to support the efforts of the federal government to diversify the nation’s economy from crude oil. In addition, its multiplier effect will positively, impact all other economic sectors. Imagine the jobs and wealth that will be created, and the poverty elimination effects, environmental conservation, socio-economic benefits, and the huge spike in national productivity and overall happiness of the citizens. What’s there not to like?
I am in total agreement, that agriculture can potentially address if not all but most of the sustainable development goals.
Agriculture being the heart of civilization, the hub for sustenance and healthy living, has enough opportunities to be invested in for a sustainable Nigeria and the universe.