Hundreds of graduates and youth in Oyo State and some other neighbouring South West States have mobilized themselves into cluster groups for large-scale mechanized cassava agribusiness with a plea to government to protect their farm holdings from the incessant incursion of Fulani herdsmen.
Speaking with newsmen over the weekend, the leader of one of the cluster groups at Igunrin village in Iseyin Local Government Area of Oyo State, Mr. Abdulrazaq Abdulwahid Algozaar, who is a town planner and estate surveyor stated that others in his group comprised graduates of computer science, business administration, accountancy, education as well as a medical student, among others.
He said members of the cluster team tagged Path-P Agricultural group resorted to large-scale farm holding following futile search for white-collar jobs in the cities. He revealed that the mechanized cassava production project became worthwhile for them as a result of the intervention of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) with support from the United Kingdom Agency for International Development (UKAID).
Under the scheme, he explained, AATF is providing each cluster group comprising of about twenty graduates and youth with a cassava planter tractor with facilities for ploughing, harrowing, planting, spraying and harvesting to service their 40 hectare-farm holding thus making farming more attractive and less drudgery. AATF is also providing training and linkages for stakeholders notably the agro service agencies, financial houses and industrial end users under the value chain development programme.
Speaking in the same vein, Mr. Idowu Friday, leader of another cluster group, aptly tagged Otitolere in Ayetoro, Yewa Local Government Area of Ogun State, disclosed that with the adoption of mechanization introduced by AATF, the group comprising 25 members have been able to grow their farm holding significantly while they have also overcome their initial challenges of marketing the cassava yields.
Representatives of the graduate farmers from Osun State further told journalists that another 40 hectares cassava farm holding is presently under cultivation in one of the farm settlements in the state under the scheme.
In his contribution, the AATF Regional field officer, Mr. Abu Umar remarked that the organization’s intervention was aimed at making it possible to revolutionize the cassava processes value chain from production to marketing with a view to making agriculture more attractive to youth and graduates in Nigeria.
Beyond the increase in cassava yield, AATF is also looking at the entrepreneurial aspect of the value chain where youth and women would be able to access the machine and outsource markets for the cluster farmers.