‘’The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings’’- Masanobu Fukuoka
All over the world, there is a global misconception that agriculture is limited to just farming. This philosophy erroneously narrowed the perception of youths about agriculture from generation to generation. In Nigeria, the situation is worse because of the shift from agriculture to oil exploration after the discovery of crude oil at Oloibiri in 1958. With unemployment ravaging like wild fire, it is pertinent for youths to enlighten their peers about abundant opportunities lying fallow in the agricultural sector with the end goal of achieving a mind-set shift and creating job opportunities. This essay therefore seeks to define some terms, explore a case study, discuss some appendages of agriculture that proves that agriculture goes beyond farming and proffer solutions capable of correcting the misconception.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Agriculture is the art and science of cultivating the soil, growing crops and raising livestock. It includes the preparation of plants and animal products for people to use and their distribution to markets1.
Farming is the business of operating a farm2.
Beyond means happening or continuing after a specified time or event3.
I was born into the agrarian region of Benue State and through my interactions with the environment, I unconsciously developed the mind-set of limiting agriculture to just planting crops and rearing animals. With many farmers practicing subsistence farming coupled with their inability to become wealthy, I looked down upon this worthy profession as a poor man’s job. Never did I know there were niches of oil wells hidden within the crevices of agricultural caves. No wonder, children all over the world are fond of aspiring for professions like medicine and engineering.
I too like every child aspired to be a medical doctor but after sitting for JAMB and scoring high for a medical related course, I was denied my preferred admission but instead offered an agricultural course. This experience demoralized my entire being and eventually led to my lengthy with depression. One day while battling this mental instability, I accidentally bumped across my primary school mathematics tutor. Here is a transcript from our converse.
Maths teacher: Hello!
Me: Turned around to see who called my attention. Good day sir
Maths teacher: Good day. How are you doing?
Me: I am doing fine sir and you.
Maths teacher: I am fine too. Emmmm… So where are you now? Have you gotten admission and what course are you studying?
Me: Scratching my head. Yes sir, I just gained admission to the University of Agriculture to study and agricultural related course.
Maths teacher: No no no…. what type a course is that. It is nothing to write home about.
Me: while he spoke the words, the level of my depression heightened as I rhetorically questioned myself. What type of a course was that?
After my release from the conversation, I quietly crept home to think and become moody. Therefore, I will be growing crops and be very poor I asked. Hmmm… Why not change to another discipline? These were the thoughts that preoccupied me for the couple of months ahead.
Months of counsels from family and friends finally convinced me to honour the admission. Upon resumption into the University system, I was introduced to courses like agric economics, agric business, agric extension, food science and technology, statistics and agricultural engineering. These revelations helped in refining my pre-conceived notion about agriculture being limited to farming and gave me the needed fuel to complete my studies. Presently, I am leveraging upon the tentacles of agriculture to carve out a niche for myself and positively influence my world.
DISCUSSION ABOUT HOW AGRICULTURE IS BEYOUND FARMING
From the case study examined, it is safe to say that in-spite of the agricultural activities engaging various regions of Nigeria, many especially the youths are ignorant about the fact that agriculture goes beyond farming. This notion stalls food security, limits market analysis and predictability, reduces the need for machine creations, increases unemployment and confines agricultural innovations within the technological lab from the reach of the public.
Agricultural economics is concerned with how societies use available resources to meet the needs of people. As an applied science, it deals with how producers, consumers and societies use scarce resources in agriculture. The history of agricultural economics can be traced back to ancient Egypt, arguably to the first agricultural economist, Joseph. He interpreted the dreams of the then Pharaoh of Egypt and correctly predicted seven years of feast and seven years of famine. Its scope goes beyond the farm gate to encompass a wider range of food and fibre related activities. It plays a vital role in the economics of development for a continuous level of farm surplus and is one of the wellsprings of technological and commercial growth. The economist may work in the production, processing, distribution or consumption sectors of the agricultural sector. Those working as demand and supply analysts often determine the prices of goods and services. Youths interested with the use of computers can employ computer bases models to analyse the direct and indirect effects of monetary policies and work as foreign traders.
Agricultural extension is a service system that assists farm people through educational procedures in improving farming methods and techniques , increasing production efficiency and income, bettering their levels of living and lifting the social and educational standards of rural life. It was first used in the British University system during the 19th century to refer to teaching activities away from the school environment. In the 20th century however, America adopted it when she was searching for a solution to her agricultural and technological problems. The aim of this appendage is to teach rural people how to raise their standards of living by their own efforts using their own resources, but with minimal assistance from the government.
Agricultural business is another salient branch of agriculture that approves the fact that agriculture extends beyond farming. It refers to any business related to farming and farming related commercial activities. It involves all the steps needed to send agricultural products and services to the market.
In-spite of the food diversity in Nigeria and other African countries, many suffer from malnutrition due to ignorance about the extension of agriculture beyond farming. According to statistical reports, although 63% of low-income people worldwide work in agriculture, the overwhelming majority of them on small farms are at risk of food and nutrition insecurity. Hence, the importance of this aspect of agriculture. Agricultural nutrition is a food-based approach to agricultural development that puts nutritionally rich foods and dietary diversity at the heart of overcoming under nutrition, over nutrition and micro nutrient deficiencies. When youths are armed with the knowledge of the nutritive arm of agriculture, it will help in equipping markets to sell varieties of food at affordable prices, reduce food waste and encourage the hygienic handling of food along the agricultural food value chain.
Agricultural food science is the study of the physical, biological, and chemical makeup of food, the causes of food deterioration and the concepts underlying food processing. Through this over lapping limb, food substances are treated to change their properties for easy preservation, to improve its quality and make it more functionally useful. According to FDA, approximately 44,000 food processors and 113,000 food warehouses are contributing to the growth of the sector. This is a testament that agriculture is actually beyond farming.
Imagine an agricultural sector without finance. There will be no grease to lubricate the wheels of agriculture without this lifeblood. Agricultural finance is concerned with the process of sourcing, acquiring and applying capital to agricultural business. It helps in empowering poor farmers to increase their wealth and agricultural production for ensuring food security.
Every adventure undertaken by man is often laden with series of risk. With the agricultural sector not exempted from the risk of climate change and accidents, there is need for a cover in the event of misfortune. Agricultural insurance is a valuable business-risk management tool that provides farmers with financial protection against production losses caused by natural perils such as drought, excessive moisture, hail, frost, wind and wildlife.
After each production cycle, there is need for agricultural products to be moved to the final consumers. This led to the need for this important extension of agriculture. Agricultural marketing is a method that includes gathering, storage, preparation, shipping and delivery of different farming materials across the country.
Through the history of agriculture, agriculturist have been in the habit of collecting data for various agricultural ventures from time to time. This data assists them in making informed decisions amidst confusion. Agricultural statistics is a branch of agriculture that is useful for planning, monitoring and evaluation purposes as well as conducting research and development.
Agricultural engineering deals with the fabrication of tools, implements and machines for making agricultural work easy and fast.
Agricultural export and import is concerned with the sale of agricultural products outside a country and the buying of agricultural products into a country respectively. This is a very important aspect of agriculture because it helps in satisfying demand through balanced supply across borders.
HOW TO PUBLICISE THE FACT THAT AGRICULTURE IS BEYOND FARMING
All these sectors discussed establish the fact that agriculture goes beyond growing crops and rearing animals. The cruse therefore lies in publicising these truths to annihilate ignorance, create job opportunities and woo youths into the different appendages of the agricultural sector. To do these;
*Government should create advocacies to encourage youth participation in agricultural activities outside farming.
Higher institutions of learning should grant more admissions into agricultural courses related to agriculture.
*Better funding should be extended to the agricultural sector to raise the status of salient agricultural appendages
*The school curriculum should be updated to accommodate aspects of agriculture alien to farming.
*Agriculture should be pushed as a business.
*Public enlightenment campaigns should be employed to better educate the public.
*Celebrities and public figures in the society should leverage upon the use of technology to carry every one along the philosophy of viewing agriculture beyond farming.
Agriculture is synonymous to farming but through this essay, it has been established that the scope of agriculture goes beyond just raising crops and rearing animals. Implementing the strategies listed is necessary to demystify the mystery of limiting agriculture to just farming.
- http://fecolartow.ng/department-of-agricultural-extension -and-management