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Fostering New Leaders in African Agriculture

In Sub-Saharan Africa, Feed the Future’s Africa Lead program works from the ground up to empower new and emerging leaders to be agents of change and advocates for food security. Working across sectors, the program trains a growing number of young people to champion agriculture at both the local and national levels, equipping them to drive ambitious food security agendas in their countries.

Meet Africanfarmer

Afioluwa Mogaji, a second-generation agricultural turnaround specialist from Nigeria with over 17 years of experience in livestock and crop production, is so passionate about the agriculture sector that he changed his name to Africanfarmer. After a devastating loss in an agricultural investment, he saw firsthand how a lack of leadership in planning interventions and crisis management has contributed to endemic poverty in rural communities, as well as food insecurity in Nigeria and across Africa. Without the incentives, infrastructure and support systems to help communities be more resilient to crises, youth in the suburbs and rural agrarian communities often view agriculture as a risky undertaking.

In 2011, contemplating giving up on food production, Africanfarmer was nominated to participate in Africa Lead’s Champions for Change in Agriculture training course, which offered him the opportunity to put his knowledge of farming practices across Nigeria to good use. He credits that experience with motivating him to rebrand agribusiness as something that would appeal to youth in rural communities, as well as unemployed or underemployed graduates and young professionals in the private sector.

In pursuit of that goal, Africanfarmer transformed his for-profit company into a social enterprise that supports smallholder farmers through affordable mobile irrigation equipment, improved and hybrid seeds, fertilizers, insecticides and training on best practices and innovations. This new focus helped him earn an Ashoka Fellowship that later led to a nomination for the International Leadership Visitors Program in the United States, where he gained exposure to U.S. foreign policy and food security issues.

Today, Africanfarmer leads seminars on agribusiness opportunities to encourage youth to embark on farming projects in rural communities and coaches them on how to leverage information technology, social media and marketing to improve their business prospects. He also partners with an environmental sustainable development NGO to help train more than 230 women to produce indigenous vegetables.

“I am passionate about empowering, training and developing the next set of agricultural entrepreneurs with a global perspective to lead agricultural businesses,” Africanfarmer says, adding that he would like to“replicate the initial Africa Lead training program and adapt it to our environment to facilitate agricultural entrepreneurship development… and influence institutional collaboration among youth employed in the agriculture sector.”

Meet Harriet Yayra Adzofu

Yayra Adzofu is a psychiatric nurse with over six years of experience at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital in Ghana. An accomplished leader and mentor, she received a 2014 Mandela Washington Fellowship to study Public Administration at Florida International University. At the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in August 2014, Adzofu had the opportunity to meet President Obama and other global leaders.

Since returning to Ghana, Adzofu has pursued volunteer opportunities with a special interest in agriculture and is a founding member of the Kairos Ladies Network, a non-profit organization founded by young women to mentor and encourage others to pursue agricultural ventures. The Network links young people with opportunities for start-up funding to help them launch their own agribusiness.

Adfozu believes opportunities like these are key to addressing the problems of unemployment and food insecurity in Ghana, as well as ultimately ending hunger in Africa. Her organization recently participated in the Africa Lead Champions for Change Leadership in Agriculture training, which helped sharpen her skills in agribusiness, entrepreneurship, and communication and advocacy, increasing her value as a mentor.

“The training was a compelling force,” Adzofu says. “[It] afforded me the opportunity to network and hence foster collaboration between organizations to achieve better and quicker results in improving food security.” Adzofu believes what she learned from Africa Lead will help her organization redraw the lines of what it means to be a farmer in the minds of young women in Ghana.

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