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Green collar jobs – solution to youth unemployment

BusinessDay, 09 Sep 2015 - Desire for white collar (office) jobs and unwillingness to look elsewhere has left many young energetic well-educated Nigerians jobless or under-employed. But ‘Green Collar (agro-based) jobs have potentials for massive employment of Nigeria’s teeming youths and would also provide employment for the older generations.

Green Collar jobs/businesses have several forms –apart from primary production which is farming of plants and animals, opportunities exist in the area of processing, packaging of fresh or processed foods, production of packages, sales of seeds, drugs and equipment, equipment hiring, repairs and maintenance services, consultancy, warehousing, haulage, feed-milling for livestock and fish, marketing etc.

But the ‘Green Collar Job project’ in focus here is an innovative approach which gets farmers to sell healthy farm fresh foodstuffs direct to high net-worth or middle class consumers in cities through young entrepreneurs who belong to the social class of the consumers. The project is being promoted by Africanfarmer Mogaji, a farmer and chief executive of X-ray Consulting, an agribusiness consulting firm. The firm provides the linkage between the rural communities where the foodstuffs are grown and the urban areas or cities.

Mogaji has impacted almost 200 farmers. The farmers grow different crops but the emphasis is on maize, water melon, tomatoes, peppers and leafy vegetables.  When the crops of farmers that Mogaji partners with are matured, he gets the farmers to supply the produce based on the bookings from urban consumers given to him through the green collar entrepreneurs in the cities. He arranges for the produce to be transported to the location the entrepreneur(s) request. Some of the produce are sold per kilo while some are sold in conventional open market scales or containers.

When sold, the profit is shared between his firm, the entrepreneur(s) involved and the farmer(s). So, the farmer gets an amount that allows him make a decent profit as against the die-hard bargaining that middlemen do.

The green collar entrepreneurs have access to professionals working in corporate organisations or through the churches they attend. They arrange for the farm produce to be delivered directly to the homes, offices, churches or any location the buyer wants.

For the mobile markets in highbrow residential estates, rented canopies are erected and tables set for a few hours and people come from their homes to buy.

Mogaji however says, “We have had to suspend the weekly mobile markets operating in residential areas some months ago because quality control became a challenge when demand far surpassed the production capacities of the farmers in our networks. Initially to bridge the heavy demand gap, we started sourcing from local open markets as well. But customers started complaining about quality. Taking the instance of watermelon, some customers complained to our entrepreneurs, ‘The latest watermelon you sold to me is not as sweet as the one you brought the other time.’

Mogaji continues, “We also had to narrow down the number of farmers we get supplies from directly to about 12. Pending the time we have been training the farmers to produce larger quantities of good quality foodstuffs more frequently and we are also encouraging more people to go into farming through training and providing or enabling access to inputs especially quality seeds.”


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