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Millennials ‘Make Farming Sexy’ in Africa, Where Tilling the Soil Once Meant Shame

In cuff links and tie, seated in his mansion in Accra, Richard Nunekpeku, 34, wants to project what this new breed of agripreneur can achieve. Five years ago, he left a high-paying job as an international marketing manager for Samsung to raise fowl, cereals and vegetables through a cooperative, Anyako Farms.

It hasn’t been easy. His first year, he invested nearly $80,000 in planting maize — but without irrigation, a dry spell wiped out the crop. The harvest earned just $8,000.

Drawing on his corporate background, Mr. Nunekpeku started over, hiring researchers in soils and fertilizer, and investing in high-tech irrigation. This year his farm is on track to break even for the first time, he said.

A boom in technology that aims to increase productivity is helping make agriculture more modern and lucrative. The number of agricultural technology start-ups in Africa has grown significantly from 2016 to 2018, according to a report by Disrupt Africa, a technology news site.

For some young farmers, it is not enough just to lure their peers into the sector. Nana Adjoa A. Sifa, 31, who has a degree in psychology, wants to utterly change how farming is done.

After years of working to engage youth and women in farming, she became a farmer herself. And she uses no pesticides on her farm, Guzakuza, planting mutually beneficial vegetables on a single plot.

“I want to transform mind-sets, and Africa,” Ms. Sifa said, holding an organic carrot seedling. “If we fail, it means the industry has failed. It means we have failed many young people.”

News credit : Nytimes