January 2014 came with so much anticipation: I had joined the team of an exciting start up in the Education space offering very enticing benefits. Four months into the job, I took a break! My story is one which clearly speaks of the power of self-discovery; appreciating and staying true to that discovery; and living out one’s passion.
MY GROWING UP EXPERIENCE
Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, at a young age of 7, my father introduced me to practical agriculture. Even though he stayed several years in the US, studied Journalism, African History at Howard University and worked in the Public Relations department of the bank, we spent most of the weekends at our family farm. Through the years, all my family members got involved in all kinds of agriculture – poultry (layer, cockrel, broiler, turkey, guinea fowl, etc), rabbitry, snailery, rearing goat, vegetable and other arable crops, etc. Before his retirement however, my father got a loan from the bank (his employer) to establish a feed mill company. He encouraged me to study agriculture at the university.
I HATED AGRICULTURE WITH A PASSION
Growing up was not all fun. My sisters and I had some bitter experience that made me vow NEVER to get involved with agric again:
- Unlike other children, we never enjoyed Christmas and New year celebrations since the ’90′s till 2004 – we had to sell chicken;
- Most times, we ate the remnants or the sickly (without hope of survival) but sold the best for a token;
- Unlike other children who had time for play, we were most times busy working at home – we had to attend to customers, sell eggs, vegetables, etc;
- Before my father’s death, the feedmill business didn’t work out well. We owed the bank;
- After dad’s death, we still live in perpetual fear of eviction because the only house we have (and live in) was the bank’s collateral;
- My father’s friends were not farmers but they were obviously better off financially and their families were exposed – our parents brought us up with sound moral values and taught us to be content with what ever we had.
In retrospect, I deeply appreciate my parents for taking us through process. Now I know better.
THE PURSUIT OF PURPOSE: My Career Trajectory
Since my father’s death in 2005, I mentally shut down the chapter of agriculture. I wanted to explore…
After graduation (B.Agric, Crop Protection) in August 2006, I started out as a photographer in a digital photography company. Thereafter I was promoted to the post of a Marketing Executive.
In June 2009, I returned for an M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics and Farm Management. I thought that was a meaningful route to getting a decent job in a corporate organisation because of my Agric background – I didn’t know any better.
In April 2011, I got a job as the Project Co-ordinator of CDNet Ltd/Gte.
In January 2014, I joined Incubator Africa to project manage the Education Hub.
In 2013, I read a review of one of the books of Robert Kaplan (Harvard University Professor) online. He had just published another book then – What you are really meant to do – so I wrote him and he sent a copy to me. I got a chance to read the book around March 2014. This book served as an eye opener. It helped me to introspect.
I discovered that agriculture is a natural field and passion from childhood; but because I had gone through a whole lot of negative experiences, I consistently denied myself what I truly loved to do. I love agriculture and would love to improve the experience for others.
When I excitedly told a very dear friend of mine of my latest decision, he spontaneously asked, “Tunde, why are you oscillating?” He sincerely meant no harm. Kudos to me, my inward convictions were too strong to be suppressed.
TURNING A NEW LEAF
When I got hold of this truth about myself, I began to work on my mind to facilitate the healing process. First, I had a deep reflection to discover what I truly enjoyed doing back then. I loved to rear rabbits and grow vegetables.
NOW, I THINK I HAVE AN ANSWER FOR MY FRIEND
In life, so many people whose lives we compare ours with or emulate, unknown to us, may be living in denial of their true selves because of societal expectations or family obligations. They may have the money, network, class; their life may appear organized and we tag them as so lucky because we perceive them shining in their careers. However, many just live each day as it comes, groaning deep down for not fulfilling their passion and living a life of purpose.
LIVING OUT MY PASSION: TEMITOPE FARMS
Taking ownership of one’s life and living out one’s passion is not without its challenges and sacrifices. It could be a very lonely journey laden with high risks and uncertainties. My passion is to use agriculture to promote healthy living. Research has shown that the right health lifestyle helps to promote productivity and longevity.
Temitope Farms, registered in 1994 by my father, is the name I have decided to use. Beginning with breeding rabbits to table size, our target is the health-conscious consumer segment. Rabbit is a lean meat, which is almost cholesterol-free and contains the least amount of fats when compared with other available meats. An easily digestible meat, with many health benefits, rabbit is meat for everyone. It is an ideal meat for patients with heart-related cases and diabetes, etc.
MY VISION FOR AGRICULTURE…
To rebrand agriculture and make it an attractive and respectable career choice by consciously building a critical mass of young people with passions and interests for agriculture; for the transformation of the sector in Nigeria and Africa. Hence, the birth of “thecorporatefarmer”!
I am happy to share my little personal experience. Thank you for reading.