Agriculture: My “Destined” Career Choice! 11


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.

DESTINY BECKONS

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.


About ‘Tunde Akinmolayan

Tunde Akinmolayan holds an M.Agric in Agricultural Economics and Farm Management from FUNAAB. He writes and runs a rabbit farm, among other engagements. He can be reached on akintunde.akinmolayan@yahoo.com.


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11 thoughts on “Agriculture: My “Destined” Career Choice!

  • OGUN Omotola

    Whao…this is soooooo touching and deep.
    One of the parts that touched me in your growing up experience was the fact that most times, you ate the remnants, but sold the best for a token. That was enough grieve towards the field. Such and many more as you mentioned were enough to cause hatred towards anything close to agriculture.
    Any child loves to play….but in your own case, there was nothing of such. All that mattered then was farm…whao!
    However, fulfilling destiny is key!
    Thanks to God Almighty for working out things. Thanks to Robert Kaplan & the time you had to study his book to be able to re-trace your thoughts and steps to what you naturally loved to do but hated because of the circumstances that surrounded your past experience of it.
    I believe anything is achievable once one puts ones mind to it (including agriculture)…*smiles*
    It can be done in a different way and with a unique style.
    The vision is achievable as well…Agriculture can be re-branded and young people can appreciate a new dimension to it and some, probably awaken their love towards it as well.
    Keep at it, thecorporatefarmer.
    You can achieve it, once it’s believed to be achievable.
    I personally believe it’s achievable!
    All the best.

  • Amara

    I ended up with an Msc in industrial chemistry only to discover that I have an undying passion for creative art, so feel free to call me the chemist bead-maker..
    A very inspiring story I must say…I pray every youth realizes that there is more to been gainfully employed than earning big pay

  • Tunde Onileola

    It’s in deed a good thought. The story is similar to mine. The little different there is that I took my own farming sector for passion. My father was a secondary school teacher as well as mum too. The salary was token then so we have to support the family needs with farming which I don’t give any interest as little as it could be. I told my father to please let me be rearing Rabbit and he agreed with me due to love he have for me. I started breeding for our table as well as for money to support family Until 1993 when I started preparing for my SSCE and I wasn’t unable to give them a full concentration again. I came out with flying color in my papers and I decided to go and study ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND HEALTH but my father disagreed with me because he wanted me to go and study Law which I did. I went to law school and did well, I also practice for 2 years but I didn’t do well due to primary interest I don’t have in it. I resigned from chamber for car business which doesn’t have a reasonable turn over for me. On these while, I have been thinking of what next to invest on. I was in my home farm where am rearing rabbits, goats,guinea pigs, fowls and turkey for family consumption and I had one of my rabbit littered 12 bunnies. I started thinking on how to increase the production and put in place some marketing strategies which has finally come to stay. The more the demand for it the more the production and this has led us to a reasonable expansion. Thank God Almighty today I am an employer of 27 workers of which 5 of them were skilled (graduates of the field), and 22 farm workers. If a poor man like me can be making 280 to 350 thousand as Net profit, why we young graduates out there try and think of which sector of agriculture that can embark on and am sure we will not regret it. TUNDE ONILEOLA, EDE, Ede south L/G, Osun state. Nigeria

  • Toyin Oladele Toriola

    This is indeed a tale of ‘THE VISIONEER’. Please act now that the zeal is at its peak. Your dream, consistency and hardwork will definitely take you there!
    Telephone: 08039426281

  • peter

    Hmmmm!!!touching and inspiring. This is where you have been planted and here alone can you flourish. You have home advantage. Go for it. Hope to do business with you soon

  • Omoregee

    Someone once said (can’t remember who now) that ‘when you do what you love, it is no more work’. A number of Nigerian youths (myself inclusive) have found ourselves in certain occupations or jobs due to circumstances. Some have identified what resonates well with them while some are yet to identify their true passion. For those who have, not many hav the courage to pursue because they’ll rather stick with certainity…..the bills are not smiling! I admire your willingness and effort not to just exist but live….because true living begins in pursuit of purpose with passion. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading this 🙂

  • kennyomaak

    Hmmm! We must learn to listen to that voice of dissatisfaction, sometimes it leads to purpose! Looking forward to relate with you as a seed scientist and plant geneticist!