This week, we would be featuring a young person who has chosen a career in sustainable farming; we are excited to be featuring him as he is a great example to other young people.
Read his interview below and catch up with the many susty things he’s currently up to.
Kindly introduce yourself
My name is Ilediagu Kenechi; I am an animal and fisheries scientist, an organic agriculture consultant and the CEO of Kenegric, an organic livestock and crop production farm in Enugu. We are working towards opening branches in Abuja and Lagos soon. I hail from Enugu state and I’m in my late 20s.
What do you currently do?
Apart from owning my own ogranic Poultry, I am a freelance organic agriculture consultant. I assist starting farms with feasibility plans, advice already existing farms and I am also the interns/students’ supervisor at the Enugu State University Research and Commercial Farm.
Kindly talk about your sustainability studies
I studied Animal and Fisheries Science Management at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Nigeria for five (5) years and also a professional course in Integrated Sustainable Organic Agriculture and Food Processing at the Renowned Songhai Center, Porto-novo, Benin republic for four months.
My thesis was on “The Growth Response of Turkey Birds fed Moringa Oleifera leaf meal as a replacement for fishmeal in their diet”. I chose this novel topic because I didn’t want to grow animals using chemicals and growth promoters. I wanted something natural/organic hence, Moringa Oleifera; a fast growing medicinal plant and at 2.5 inclusion, there was no significant difference between the growth of the turkeys as compared to those fed diet containing 5% fishmeal.
Why did you choose your school and course?
I chose the school because of their technology and advanced ways of teaching, coupled with their level of research in especially in the fields of Agriculture. I wanted to study in my native state after been born and bred in the north (Jos). I have always loved agriculture and since environmental pollution and food security have always been a global problem; I wanted to go into it and play a role that positively benefits my community and the world at large as well as helping to fight the problems of endangered species, pollution, food security and many more.
What does Sustainable Agriculture mean to you?
Sustainable agriculture should be any agricultural process in which plant and animal products are produced using organic techniques and made available and affordable for consumption thereby protecting the environment and the general health of all living things/beings within it.
How are you able to achieve Sustainable farming process with the work that you do?
First of all, by knowing that nothing is (meant to be) wasted! The waste from plants can serve as fertilizer and food to animals and vice versa, recycling water and other degradable materials to produce other commodities, then also reducing/mitigating the use of chemicals in lands, plants and animals and also keeping clean sanitary measures for the better production of farm products.
What inspired your interest in this field?
My love for a clean, disease and pollution-free environment and to see everyone get the 3 basic needs of life; food, shelter and clothing (which are all products of agriculture).
How feasible is export trading in your line of business?
Very feasible, as we can recall the good days of cocoa and groundnut exportation which was a major income earner for the economy before the so-called “oil boom”. I look forward to seeing more exportation of more agricultural produce like palm products, cash crops, animal products like meat, hides and skins, offals, rubber and lots more as there are a number of countries who have even taken seeds from Nigeria, grown in their countries and are now exporting them to other countries including Nigeria. We hope the government doesn’t place embargo that would make export and import difficult.
What Sustainability issue do you think requires the most attention right now in Nigeria?
Food security; due to global warming, incessant rise in cost of food, lack of modern techniques of farming, lack of capital and others has made food security almost unattainable. Hence the government and big NGOs need to assist upcoming farmers and organic agriculture experts like me to combat food scarcity. By bringing up programs and funds to enhance growth of livestock, crops and other products through organic techniques and it will also be beneficial to the soil, air and other factors of the environment. As a study stipulates that almost one-third of the world population are malnourished. Food is the number one basic need of man as it also helps us think well and the lack of it is obviously detrimental.
What are your long term career plans?
To own one of africa’s biggest ranch, which will also be a sustainable agricultural research and training center, to assist my country, Nigeria in food security issues, to assist young farmers stabilize and grow more and to be in the forefront of the fight against environmental degradation.
What are your other interests?
Music, art, new age automobiles that use solar or electricity and anything environmental friendly.
What has been the biggest constraint in your business and work?
Lack of funds; I have big dreams and plans on expanding and carrying out extension services as well as giving out free, organically-made farm products to local consumers but I need funds to make this come through and like they say no man is an island, I can not do these things alone.
How easy is it to incorporate Sustainable Farming processes in various forms of Agriculture?
VERY EASY. All forms/chains of agriculture are intertwined. Let me give an example, after the harvest of maize, millet and sugarcane, the stems are taken to grasscutters to eat and the straws leftover is taken to the maggotry where rotten fruits and dead animals are also taken to produce maggots which serve as great protein food for fishes and poultry. The water from ponds are used to water plants too as they are well fertilized, straws too serve as mulch for the plants too to avoid loss of water via evaporation and maintain humidity and a soil with less weed that can easily be hand-removed. Also, manure from animals serve as fertilizer, and all wastes from both animals and plants can be used in making compost fertilizer. The manure from pigs, cows and birds can also be used in making biogas which is a source of electricity and gas for cooking, bottles, rubbers and polythene bags can be used and recycled to make more. And lots more. If you notice from this slight illustration, there’s nothing posing a threat to the environment. They all have mutual relationship.
Do you think Nigerian farmers care about their impact on the environment?
No. Most of them don’t. They are always after their sales and profits (to be) made and that’s why extension services need to be carried out to sensitize farmers and intending agriculturist on the benefits of environmental protection.
As a researcher, how are the best ways to sensitize farmers on Climate Change in Africa?
Extension services; programs, seminars, summits should be organised by government, ministries and parastatals involved, NGOs and others in conjunction with organic consultants to talk to the public. Even via radio and TV programs and also placing signposts suggesting better ways to dispose and use waste and to produce in the farms can go a long way in sensitizing these farmers.
With the recent focus on MadeinNigeria goods, what would you say about the future of organic farming in Nigeria?
I am in support of patronising made in Nigeria goods if they are/will be grown naturally/organically without chemicals and other additives. It is like using less to produce more which will help the future of organic farming in the country and also the producers involved as only a few people actually practice organic farming. Again, sensitization workshops and seminars will also help the future of Organic farming and bring more people into the business.
Do you think the SDGs are achievable by 2030 and why?
I think they are achievable only if the government and NGOs interested are ready to join hands together with us and work towards these goals. If not, the environmental problems we have now may get worse by 2030.
What are your favourite SDGS?
Goal 2 – Zero hunger and Goal 12 – Responsible consumption and production. As food is essential and production (organically) and comsumption is an all-rounder as it helps fight degradation, wastage and even global warming.
What would you tell young people interested in Sustainable Agriculture in Africa?
Do not lose hope. It is profitable, beneficial to both you and the environment and you will also be helping the future generation too.
How can people reach you on find out more about your work?
Twitter – @itsKDEEP
Facebook – facebook.com/bouncingbabyboy
Email – [email protected]
Skype – kenechile