Sunday, January 27, 2013



With all the pressure on our environment, climate and our surrounding it is important that everyone starts to think sustainability. Sustainability can however not come about if we do not begin to live a sustaining lifestyle. You might begin to wonder what I mean by that.
In the a report on Sustainable living by the St’ Luke’s University in Canada, it explains “sustainable living is making conscious choices in everyday life and begin aware that you are making a choice when you leave the tap running while brushing your teeth, or while shopping for groceries’’. It thus requires a conscious effort on the part of each individual to live a sustaining life.


1.      AT HOME – The home is the starting point. Charity begins at home. The home front provides amble opportunity to practice sustainable living. Here are a few ways
·         Hang your cloths dry rather than using a dryer
·         Cover pots when cooking
·         Use energy saving bulbs
·         Turn off lights when not in use
·         If you use an heater or air conditioning system, don’t heat or cool an empty house
·         Shut off water when soaping during a shower or brushing your teeth

2.      RESPONSIBLE BUYING- When making decisions on where to make purchases you also have to think sustainability. You have to think different and weigh your options properly. These could include if possible buying locally. Local products help reduce transportation costs and environmental impacts while contributing to the local economy. Aside from this purchasing clothing made completely or partly form sustainable materials can support the agricultural industries.

3.      WASTE REDUCTION- This involves using fewer materials in the home, office, and school. Recycling is closely related to this. Recycling and waste reduction protects our environment because it reduces the demand on land fill space and it is also good for the economy of any country.

4.      TRANSPORTATION- One key way to reduce the carbon footprint on our environment is sustainable transportation. This allows the basic of individuals to be met without putting the future generation at risk of not meeting the same need. Here are some tips;
·         Use the public transport instead of your car thus reducing fuel use and harmful emissions
·         Carpool with your friends and colleagues. This reduces the number of cars on the road and road congestion too.
·         If you can why don’t you cycle or skate to work
·         Buy vehicles with a record of fuel efficiency

We need to secure our environment both for our use and that of the generations to come. We need to remain healthy and strong. And we can only achieve this when and if we GOGREEN so we can STAY COOL.
Follow these tips and you can be sure of a better life.

Join the Go Green and Stay Cool Intiative on Facebook and Twitter

Monday, January 14, 2013

FAMILY FARMING – a means to Promote Youth’s Involvement in Agriculture and Agribusiness

Andres Solari, his father and me, Olawale Ojo during Solari's farm visit, during the GCARD2, Punta Del Este, Uruguay.
Among the many highlights of my participation at the Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2)  with the theme FORESIGHT AND PARTNERSHIP FOR INNOVATION AND IMPACT ON SMALL-HOLDER LIVELIHOODS at Punta del Este, Uruguay on 29th October to November 1, 2012, one experience that I would not forget very quickly was the visit to the Solari Family Farm in MonteVideo Rural in Uruguay.
Andres Solari a youth and one of the children of Mr. Solari gave a tour of the farm. The seventeen (17) hectares farm was been cared for and operated by the Solari family. These included Andres, his brother and sister, his parents and regular assistance from three of their cousins.
The farm grows peaches, apples, nectars and oranges. The processing section which is right there on the farm produces wines, jam and juice.
Touching was the fact that Andres and his siblings judiciously joined their parents in the daily running and operation of the farm business. “My mother started this farm in 1998” he said while giving a tour of the farm and sharing the history of the farm. The sister and mother handles the marketing and sales aspect of the  farm while Andres, his brother and father work on the farm itself with the support of their cousins and hired labour when necessary.
A showcase of one of the main themes of the conference itself which is PARTNERSHIP was dislayed by the Solari’s family farm. The farm works hand in hand with the National Agricultural Institute and the Department of Agronomy in the University of Uruguay. One aspect of the partnership is the reduction of the use of pesticide by provision of biological pest control at reduced cost. This partnership makes it possible for the products of the farm fit for export and allows for sustainability of the farm and environment. These factors : active involvement of the family members in the business, partnership with research bodies and cooperatives have made high productivity possible for the Solari family farm and these has bagged them so many awards such as the Sociedad Uruguay Dehortifruiticulun Award in 2005, LATU Sistemas in 2006 and right during the visit an Award of Recognition by INIA (the National Agricultural Institute).
The commercialization of their products through retailers, supermarket and joining other growers makes exporting possible for them. As a matter of fact, as at the time of the visit the mother was away in Italy to attend the Slow Food Fair which is one of the so many international fair the farm attends to expand their market base.
The example of Andres is one that African youths and families can learn from. So if you have parents that have farms: are you joining them to make it a sustainable business enterprise? Do you share your professional skills either as an accountant, HR manager, engineer and so on to improve the activities on the farm thus increasing profitability? Taking a clue from the example of Andres and his family can go a long way to elevate poverty in families both in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

 First Published on YPARD

Representing African Youths in ARD at The GCARD 2

Speaking on behalf of YPARD AFRICA at the FARA Side- event at the GCARD2

YPARD was invited to present to it activities to theThe Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) at it pre-event conference side event activities held on the 28th of October 2012 at the 2nd Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2) holding at Punta del Este, Uruguay. The session was focusing on “Catalyzing African Innovations and entrepreneurship” and it was dedicated to showcasing innovations and entrepreneurships within the agriculture knowledge system in Africa. The objectives of the event were
1.    Share at the global level experiences in catalyzing innovations and entrepreneurship by different regional coordinating bodies from extension to youth and civil society organizations and
2.    Create opportunity to discuss possible partnerships with other continents for South-South and North-South Cooperation.
The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) is the apex organization for coordinating and facilitating agricultural research extension and Education in Africa. It hosts YPARD Africa. As a result, among the many stakeholders in ARD such as ASARECA, AFAAS, RUFORUM, PAFFO, NASRO, and PANGOC who were present at the event, YPARD Africa was also present to showcase to the apex body their activities so far and plans for the future.
I was invited to represent YPARD Africa and present activities of the continental arm of the organization to the stakeholders. Among the many things mentioned was the role of YPARD in networking Young Professionals in Agricultural Research for Development together and providing a structure for them to show case their works in all areas of Agriculture.
I also elaborated on the role YPARD plays in not only giving voice to the youths but also bringing it to the doorstep of the stakeholders and senior professionals. A typical example is the lobbying for sponsorship of four YPs from Africa to join 12 others from all over the world to bring the voice of youths to the GCARD2. The role YPARD plays in sharing and disseminating information to the youth was showcased as well. Stakeholders at the event also found interesting the YPARD’s program to showcase the efforts of YP doing well in agriculture through its YP of the month testimonial page on their website and it was applauded.
I went ahead to explain the challenges faced by young professionals and YPARD as an organization. These included:
     i.        The need for Young Professional to have more access to internships, field works and mentorship from the various arms of agriculture.
    ii.        The need to provide training on entrepreneurship and soft skills to improve innovation systems.
   iii.        The problem of making agriculture attractive to young people
   iv.        Value addition to the career with appropriate reward system and
    v.        Funding for more offline activities and administrative activities of YPARD Africa at national levels
The various stakeholders appreciated the effort of YPARD so for and encouraged that the flag be kept flying. These discussions were brought before the global research community during FARA’s presentation at the conference itself.

Olawale Isaiah is an active member of YPARD from Nigeria and was part of the 4 youths from Africa sponsored to be part of the 2nd Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2). This is the second of my post-conference posts. Read the first here.


When we talk about going green, often times we think about the basics such as reusing plastic bags, turning off the lights, recycling your products or even ensuring you purchase products and services that are environmental friendly. But then let look at a bigger picture. A picture of what lies ahead of us all. A future of not wasting our resources but utilizing them effectively and in a environmental friendly manner.  Let us examine how we can GO GREEN in our business. But first let examine what it means to GO GREEN.
“Going Green” is a term used to describe green initiatives such as producing environmentally friendly products, manufacturing products using machines and equipment that produce substantial less ozone omissions and decrease waste being dumped into general water supplies. It can be providing a green service such as converting paper or hard copy files into digital ones thus eliminating the need to always photocopy documents.


  • Use less paper
  • Recycle paper products

  • Buy biodegradable office supplies

  • Try create a niche in the green market
  • Recycle old computers and peripherals

  • Buy green products for cleaning around your company
  • Buy organic food for your kitchens

  •   Use daylight instead of office light whenever you can

  •   Be diligent about turning off lights when a room is not in use

  • Print only when absolutely necessary

Going Green has numerous benefits for you and your office not only does it make you environmental friendly but it does surely helps you spend less and save more. You also are happy that you are not contributing to global warming. Why don’t you try these tips today?

You want to know more about sustainable lifestyle? 

Friday, January 11, 2013


As we step into the year 2013, a lot of indications at the last quarter cum earlier activity of 2012 shows that serious attention would be drawn to agriculture, with a business unusual dimension for the sector. What this means is that agriculture would no longer be seen as mere farming- a laborious venture with lot of waiting period for benefits to be gotten but rather as a business, a source of employment for the youths, a source of livelihood and most importantly (especially to me) a sector that young people would begin to find desirous and attractive and lucrative.

To succeed as young people- agric entrepreneurs, it is important that we are armed with not only the relevant information, right and appropriate skills to thrive but have a strong desire and see the attractive but BIG picture in Agriculture, Food Supply Chain, Food Safety etc. Here are a few tips i have decided to share with all the young people out there that desire to go into any part of Agriculture cum Agribusiness or that are already into it.

     i.        Be Business Plan Ready: Funding and grant competitions and opportunities would open up in 2013. One of the basic requirements is that you MUST have a business plan. It is important that you have one ready at all times. Like my friend Allavi Elorm of Syecomp Business Services in Ghana said “Make sure your business plan is handy and accessible in both soft and hard copies”. You just have to be ready when the opportunity comes knocking at the door. Be it a competition or the opportunity to pitch your plan before potential clients or investors.

    ii.        Leverage on the Skills and Knowledge (of your friends and associates): Involve trusted friends (vision or dream builders) in our endeavour. The world we live in is blessed with very blessed individuals and this offers us a win-win environment. Be willing to ask for help from friends who would be ready to do some tasks for you at no cost or a cheaper one. Let us take this as a typical example, do you need to do graphic design works for branding of your agro firm why not talk to a friend who has got expertise in graphic design. Often times, such ones are willing to do it for free or at a comfortable discount. BUT never take the help or discount for granted.

   iii.        Network and Join the right support Organisations: Trust me, been part of he right networks and organisations either online or offline makes it possible to gain access to information and resources needed. A few examples are Young Professionals’ platform for Agricultural Research for Development(YPARD), Harambe Nigeria, Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN), National Association of Small Scale Industrialist (NASSI) to mention a few. Like the pages and join groups on social networks that relates to agriculture. All these organisations or networks have products, resources, seminars, workshops and other opportunity openings that young agro entrepreneurs need from time to time.

   iv.        Do not Joke with Farmers’ Organisation: Interestingly, government, research institutions, organisation, banks etc. both local and international desire always to align with groups of farmers rather than individuals. So ensure that you are part of a farmers’ organisation or cooperative at the very least. In Nigeria for example, the government recognises the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) and they are found in every state of the federation. So make out time and join one. What more, interacting with fellow farmers and agro allied service providers helps in understanding the terrain and create synergy to tackle common problems and challenges.

    v.        Be Information Hungry: it is often said that “knowledge is Power”. As young people (with a so much passion, desire that finds Agriculture attractive), we need to be HUNGRY for relevant and credible information and resources. Sometimes this information opens up tips, opportunities and a large array of doors and networks that would be helpful. This brings me to the Power of the Social Media Networks. Merely following the research bodies like CGIAR, FARA, CIMMIT on twitter connects you to lot of information that would be invaluable.

   vi.        Engage in Personal Development and Training: Everyday new findings and results are revealed or unravelled through researches. More knowledge is provided about value chains and investment opportunities for entrepreneurs in the sector. As young entrepreneurs it is important that you get the right trainings through workshops, conferences and specialised training classes. Sometimes you have to pay for them. It could be a new method of cropping or livestock management or even soft skills and business management training. All these makes us fit for the sector and ready to excel.

Join the revolution of Young Agroprenuers, our Nation waits on us to turn things around. This is real business. Follow these tips and some more you may have gathered on your own and be sure of success. See you all at the top.