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Dr. Ikechi Agbugba

Dr. Ikechi Agbugba is an agro economist and food security specialist with specific focus

on marketing, agribusiness management, entrepreneurship and related areas.

He is the conceptor of ‘’the Brain Re-Engineering Concept and Re-imagination in a sunken

Economy: Strategy for Entrepreneurship Development and Youth Engagement.’’

He features as ambassador to different African diaspora groups and has gleaned good

experience as diaspora expert with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) of the

United Nations in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development

and Federal Department of Agriculture Nigeria under the Food Crop Production Technology

Transfer Station (FCPTTS), Ubiaja and the National Horticulture Research Institute (NIHORT),

Ibadan. He plays roles as Researcher and Development Officer with Reform Corporation

International (RFI),London, UK; Visiting Professor with Rome Business School, Senior Lecturer with

Rivers State University and Adjunct Professor with Cavalla International University.

Since 2003, he has been carrying-out researches on marketing of food and agricultural commodities, economics of agriculture and agribusiness. He earned PhD in Marketing and Agribusiness and also gained Postdoctoral Research Experience on a collaborative study between University of Fort Hare, Alice Campus and Agricultural Research Council (ARC), South Africa. He is an external examiner with Development Studies Department University of Fort Hare and has been examining PhD students’ theses since 2018.

Currently, he features as senior academic/researcher playing mentoring roles to university students, African youths, teenagers, as well as engaging with international networking volunteer organizations across Africa and outside, as either senior advisor or director in championing Africa’s transformation through the agriculture/agribusiness and education sectors. Interestingly, Dr. Agbugba was amongst the recipients of the ‘’Global Mentor of Change award.’’

He is an active advocate member of European Technology Chamber (EUTECH) participating in different workstreams as expert and speaker. Recently, he was nominated as Board Member of the Food, Farming and Fisheries Alliance Committee by EUTECH focusing on possible and easy solutions how to deploy business ideas, as well as relevant technology to targeted African communities, developing interregional technology cooperation between Europe and Africa.

According to Dr Agbugba, “moves to industrialize the agriculture sector must be vastly encouraged especially in this era of advent of technology and the fourth industrial revolution (4IR).” To mention a few, Dr. Agbugba is also an Advisory Board Member with the African Continental Chamber for Commerce and Industry (ACCCI); Director, Research & Development/International Coordinator for Africa Agriculture Agenda (AAA); Senior Advisor, African Youth Diaspora Organization (AYDO); Senior Adviser, Tomatoes and Orchard (Horticulture) Producers Association of Nigeria (TOPAN); Senior Advisor, AgriEn (an agribusiness and agri energy initiative focused on accelerating development and delivery of innovative and sustainable interventions in food security, among other initiatives).

It is important to note that in building the technological capacity of African smallholder farmers, Dr. Bischof and Dr. Agbugba developed a PETS Foreign Policy Ecosystem specifically for African entrepreneurs in the agriculture space. He is a selected academia/researcher stakeholder in the Feed-the-Future initiative of the USAID Global Food Security Strategy Whole-System Workshop and has led plenary sessions on Food Security and Agribusiness especially at International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) World Congress which held at St Paul Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. Moreover, he is the recipient of the excellence award: ‘Agro-Economist of the Year’ in the 2017 Conference of the Pan African Agricultural Journalists (PAAJ). He also emerged as one of the top recipients of the Global Emerging Leaders’ Award 2022 as announced by the Global Council for the Promotion of International Trade (GCPIT), as well as the State News from the Prime Minister of the State of the African Diaspora (SOAD).

Brain Re-Engineering and Reimagination in a sunken Economy:

Strategy for Entrepreneurship Development and Youth Engagement

 

BY

 

          AMBASSADOR IKECHI AGBUGBA, PhD

             Formerly Postdoc ARC & UFH, SA; Global Mentor of Change

 

NEW DIMENSIONS AND THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION:

UNLOCKING PRECISION AGRICULTURE

Agriculture has never been left out in the various technological and scientific advances of man. How far the agriculture sector has come in development and production is testament to the excellent breakthrough our modern world has achieved viz a vis industrial revolution (IR). Industrial and agrarian revolution always go hand-in-hand, and that is the reason why economies in which agriculture is stagnant does not show industrial development. History has always been in favour of earthmoving transformations and one of such transformations in the globe came in the guise of IR. Truly, it left a lasting footprint in the socio-economic and developmental strides of the modern world. IR can be described as the period of time during  which work began  to be  done more by machines in factories than by  hand. Over  the past  2 centuries, IR transformed the world most profoundly in human history since the neolithic revolution.

The'neolithic revolution, a.k.a. the first agricultural'revolution is'the period from a lifestyle of hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and settlement, thereby making an increasingly larger population possible. The 4IR is characterised by the blurring of boundaries btw the physical, digital & biological worlds. It is a fusion   of   the   advances in agricultural  innovation  systems  (AIS)   which  explains  about  people,  their knowledge, technology, infrastructure and cultures they have created or learned, who they work with, what   new   ideas   they   are   experimenting   with.   Examples   of   AIS   are:   agricultural   drones,   artificial intelligence,   blockchain   technology,   Internet   of   things   (IoTs)   and   automation;  Clustered   Regularly Interspaced   Short   Palindromic   Repeats  (CRISPR)   and   genetic   editing   (Biotechnology   &

Nanotechnology). Precision agriculture is an approach to farm management that uses IT to ensure that the crops and soil receive exactly what they need for optimum health and productivity. The goal of PA is to ensure profitability, sustainability & protection   of   the   environment.  Conclusively,   new   technology solutions, including chemicals and larger tractors,'allowed farmers to work larger areas of land with less labor. Government policies encouraged farmers to scale up their operations. Farmers were also motivated by economies of scale—the economic advantage of producing larger numbers of products.

United Nations Report and Youth Engagement in Agriculture: The Perception Problem?

 

By 2050, the demand for food will surge by 70%, which aligns with rapid population growth. Research findings from a UN study indicates that about 9.9% of global population still goes hungry, so the thought of feeding almost 10 billion persons is still anticipated as daunting. With environmental changes hard to predict, we must turn to innovation in agriculture technology.  The role of youths and youngsters of Africa is really a concern as their perception towards farming and agribusiness is outdated and regarded as wrong. Their importance in tackling this issue cannot be over emphasized.  Hence, the concept of brain re-engineering and reimagination which forebears on changing the wrong perception problem youths have about agriculture thereby underscoring it as a prospective strategy for enhancing youth engagement in agriculture to build their entrepreneurship capacity.

I reckon, from the findings of previous high level panel of experts (HLPE) studies about youths in driving transformation outlines as follows:

• That youth are on the front lines to build the food systems of the future, while also bearing significant risks from climate change, social and economic inequities, and political marginalization.

• That food systems provide a wide spectrum of opportunities for the engagement and employment of young people across diverse global contexts, but these jobs do not always provide decent and meaningful work or adequate livelihoods.

• In response, policies and initiatives to protect and strengthen youth engagement and employment in food systems need to be based on the pillars of rights, equity, agency and recognition. The redistribution of resources, knowledge, and opportunities for youth innovation and engagement in the development of context-specific employment and labour policies can not only contribute to creating jobs for youth but can also directly support transitions to sustainable food systems.

Brain Re-Engineering Concept and Reimagination

The core focus of brain re-engineering and reimagination is conceptualized and hinges on changing this perception problem of African youths as it stands to provide a veritable strategy in transforming Africa’s economy through the agriculture or agribusiness sector in an age where environmental concerns and climate change issues are at an all-time high; and sadly, sustainable farming is a hotbed subject. Our population is growing, and increasing shortages of land and water pose a noteworthy threat to the longevity of humans as we know it. But while many politicians stall at a glance, agriculture technology start-ups are busy taking action.

We must establish that advances in machinery have increased the scale, speed and productivity of farm equipment. Hence, this leads to a more efficient cultivation of more inputs and variables in productive lands with seeds, fertilizers and irrigation also have greatly improved thereby ultimately helping farmers in increasing their yields in either crops, livestock, agroforestry or fisheries. 

Agricultural Production, Technological Innovation and Fourth Industrial Revolution

Truly, the potential level of agricultural production is generally considered to be determined by physical factors such as quality of the soil, quality and availability of water and the prevailing climate. In so doing, the need of the hour is to drive transformation in African economy through these recent new dimensions of technology since the whole idea of brain re-engineering seizes the opportunity and leverages on the advent of technology and fourth industrial revolution (4IR) which operates on Cyberspace systems such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain technology, Internet of Things (IOTs), Agricultural Drones, among other technology solutions.

Technological innovations have, to a great extent shaped the agriculture sector throughout time. Examples of technological solutions in the 4IR era are: Bee vectoring technologies; precision agriculture; indoor vertical farming; livestock farming technology; laser scarecrows; farm automation; real-time kinematic (RTK) technology; mini-chromosome technology; farm management software;  and water management technology. From the creation of the plough to global positioning system (GPS) driven precision farming equipment, humans have developed new ways of making farming more efficient and productive.

Generally, the youths of Africa are fascinated by automation, and yearn to see a more-scientific and technologically-driven agriculture and that specifically factors in the use of robots, drones, and autonomous tractors to make farming more efficient. Precision agriculture is not left out in the brain re-engineering concept and reimagination which involves applying irrigation, fertilizers and pesticides at variable rates, depending on crop needs, rather than uniformly applying them at set times, quantities and frequencies.

Conversely, major technologies that are most commonly being utilized by farms are  harvest automation, autonomous tractors, seeding and weeding, and drones. Farm automation technology addresses major issues like a rising global population, farm labor shortages, and changing consumer preferences.

Youth engagement in agriculture is essential and critical for growth and to strengthen local food systems, feeding communities and providing gainful employment opportunities for the world's booming youth population. The role of youths in digital agriculture is streamlined in such a way that automated workflows have become invaluable for teams in the agriculture industry.

The more youths and youngsters are in the agriculture space in the 4IR era, the more its potential to increase efficiency, improve quality, and lower costs is assure. However, some of the demerits to the use of technology in agriculture are negligible as that would create more work for the agripreneur or young farmer and can reduce the personal contact farmers have to their farmlands.

Indeed, the brain re-engineering concept and reimagining of what the agriculture sector and its enterprise activities stands to offer which hinges on unveiling the technology new dimensions can allow farmers to better engage in effective monitoring of the health of their livestock and crops, better documentation, more informed decisions, as well as in saving time and money.

 

Conclusion

Brain re-engineering concept and reimagination is a strategy enhancing youth engagement especially in the agriculture space as that would enhance their

entrepreneurial capacity. Entrepreneurship in agriculture is a transformative

option to unlock income generation through the agriculture sector since it will

create jobs and multiple sources of income. Truly, youth agripreneurship creates decent work for young people, strengthens communities and drives inclusive economic growth, but for too many young people, entrepreneurship is out of reach. One of the biggest advantages of getting started with entrepreneurship at a young age is the opportunity to learn important skills such as teamwork, networking, problem-solving, critical thinking, innovation, self-discipline, etc.

All these skills can help in school performance and later in life. We must not forget that entrepreneurs in the agriculture industry are important to market economies, because they can act as the wheels of the economic growth of the country. By creating new products and services, they stimulate new employment, which ultimately results in the acceleration of economic development.

REFERENCES

Dr Ikechi Agbugba being interviewed by Dick Veerman Africa: ‘Africa needs to develop both its agriculture and food processing industry.’ 15-08-2020. Available at: https://agrifoodnetworks.org/article/africa-needs-to-develop-both-its-agriculture-and-food-processing-industry

 

HLPE (2021). Promoting youth engagement and employment in agriculture and food systems. A report by the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security, Rome. Available at: https://www.fao.org/3/cb5464en/cb5464en.pdf

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