Like many Nigerian students, Chinonye Ezem planned to study Pharmacy in 2014, but ended up with Crop Science after her admissions test score was ruled insufficient for the course.
“I could not understand why it was Agriculture; of all courses, Crop Science, I cried,” Ms Ezem told PREMIUM TIMES. “I called my dad, but he advised I accepted the offer so I did.”
She did not stop applying for Pharmacy.
She wrote JAMB twice after her admission, but both were unfruitful. She was already in her third year.
At that time, she had started having interest in Crop Science.
“In my third year after the unfruitful attempt, I decided to put my mind to it, I found love with it then I realised it was much more than we saw,” Ms Ezem said.
As a graduate of Crop Science, she has been farming for three years now.
Aside her degree, she trained with Songai Delta Farms in Sapele where she went through both animal and crop production and processing.
After the training, the picture became clearer to her.
“I see farming as beyond tilling the soil and the suffering people see it as,” she said.
“I have been trained by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and after the training six of us were selected to go under the orange fleshed sweet potatoes.”
The orange fleshed sweet potatoes is a bio fortified crop. This means extra vitamin A has been added to this product and it is healthier. Diabetic patients can take it as well as growing children.
It helps boost immunity but the awareness is low and Nigerian should consume it better.
The African Development Bank is the major sponsor under the enable TAAT compact through the IITA which provides land, machines and inputs. The Anambra Imo River basin also partners on this project.
“Alongside all these organisations, I work with the International Potatoes Centre,” Ms Ezem said.
My farm is located in Imo State but I have not experienced harassment from herders although some of my colleagues have experienced it.
“Measures were taken immediately so they don’t have access to the farm.”
During the harvest of this product, she had less profit as estimated because of managerial crisis.
“Now we are looking into processing it; maybe it will generate more revenue,” she said.
As a youth agro-preneur for IITA, she has one hectare of land.
After the inputs are provided, Ms Ezem and her crew will take 80 per cent of the proceeds and remits 20 per cent.
However, the proceeds will be shared after two years when the contract with IITA expires.
The potato centre provides market for the farmers so selling the produce is not a problem.
There are lots of people ready to act as off takers so farmers don’t meet up to the demand.
“I started this project during my service year or generally I started farming as a student so I was combining both farming and other things,” she said.
“During the pre harvest, I am either occupied with school or some other work. Now that i have finished service, I am yet to experience the pre harvest period,” she said.
“I think a lot of young people should go into farming, it is not dirty and there are opportunities, all you need is to have passion and be hardworking,” she concluded.
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