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EMERGING OPPORTUNITIES LIE IN AGRICULTURE CREATIVE ARTS AND CULTURE

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The surest thing in the life of every man is food” This knowledge was passed by various speakers to the members of the audience at the Career Workshop and Seminar which held at the auditorium of The Fountain Of Life Church on December 3, 2011.


The seminar, which was organized by the Career Development Agency and Business Fellowship of the Church, had key speakers from both the agricultural sector of the country as well as the arts and entertainment industry. Key speakers included Honorable Gbolahan Lawal, the Commissioner for Agriculture & Coopera­tives in Lagos State, Mosunmola Umoru; the CEO of Farm Shoppe; Mr. Tope Atere, the CEO of Richmond Foods; Mr. Tayo Ogundana, the CEO of Pisces Aquatic Ltd and Mr. Taiwo Onakoya, CEO of Scalufan, a piggery farm. From the entertainment sector were Mrs. Joke Silva, co-founder of LUFODO Academy of Performing Arts; Mr. Obi Asika, CEO of Storm 360; Mr. Mahmood Ali-Balogun, CEO of Brickwall Communications Ltd .; and Mr. Korede Olabanji of Photonimi.

The seminar started with opening prayers and few minutes of praise by the Grace Levites. The anchor of the programme, Pastor Blessing Awoshika, speaking on the importance of the seminar, argued that money is not the first thing involved in starting a business but vision, citing herself as an example. The seminar, she said, was designed to enlighten the audience on the best way to go about starting up a business. She then introduced Hon. Gbolahan Lawal who spoke on the investment opportunities in Agriculture in the state. He explained that Lagos State had to go into agriculture seeing it as a viable alternative for employ­ment creation. According to him, about 60% of youths and graduates are unemployed and any country with that percentage of unemployment rate is prone to economic issues, hence the numerous programmes of the state to alleviate this problem. He further advised the audience, especially the youths, to embrace agriculture, instead of roaming the streets in search of jobs. He enumerated some of the achievements of the state in agriculture as:

  1. Creation of Fish farming in Ikorodu which produces over 10,000 tons of fish every year.
  2. Creation of Pig farming at Oke Aro with 1,200 pig farmers and a total pig population of 88.
  3. Establishment of AGRIC YES which is a Social protection training and empowerment programme for youths launched in 2008.
  4. Establishment of Eko Farmers’ Mart which was created to sell fresh farm produce to Lagosians.
  5. Creation of “Rice-for-jobs” which pro­motes sufficiency in rice production.
  6. Getting 1,000 farmers in the next three years. This will help in job creation.

He implored parents not to discour­age their children and youths in general from going into farming, and also invited churches to invest in agriculture so as to augment the government’s efforts in the sustenance of agriculture in the state, es­pecially as the ministry of agriculture has future innovations in Lagos. According to him, a sound agricultural transformation strategy will impact economic growth in the long run. He concluded by inviting youths interested in farming to visit the Ministry of Agriculture and Corperative slocated in Block 5, First Floor, Room 17 at the Alausa office.

Mosun Umoru also came up to challenge the youths to follow their inner direction. She however encouraged them to learn under an expert in whatever area of farming they would like to venture into. Recounting how she also started seven years ago, she was an intern for a year with Mr. Atere who is now a partner in the farming business.

Mr Tope Atere, who was trained as a lawyer but ended up as a processor and marketer of chicken, talked about rec­ognizing one’s strength. The lawyer who has remained in the chicken business for 18years further explained that one does not necessarily have to be a farmer before one can sell farm produce to people. One can process and sell. Talking about challenges, he explained that while every business has a trying period, passion will always drive one. He gave the example of bird flu as his “trying period”. According to him, it was so bad that even members of his family were passing funny comments about his business. He also thought of quitting but was sustained by passion. Now, he is still in the business. He further encouraged the audience to plan well before venturing into anything. He disclosed that he started the processing of the first set of chicken with N8,000 and sold it for N11,000.


Mr. Tayo Ogundiran who spoke on how to start a farm business shared the story of how he started his fishing business ten years ago immediately after he completed his NYSC with just N3000. He encouraged the audience not to look for huge money to start fishing. The graduate of fishery from the University of Ibadan also said that prayer and reading the Bible only are not enough for Christians in business, they need to take action. According to him, reading the Bible without taking steps is fruitless.


Mr. Taiwo Onakoya, who also resigned from his lucrative job for piggery farming­spoke on how to start piggery farming. He admonished the audience that piggery farm­ing is simple and lucrative but requires time and passion. He concluded that with just N8000, one can actually start the business. Emphasizing on the issue of challenges, he also corroborated the earlier speakers that there will be challenges but passion will always remain the driving force. He also gave his experience during the Swine Flu. He argued that neither a University degree nor a white collar job would put food on the table but self actualization. He concluded his speech by advising the audience to build a good character both as farmers and as business people.

Moving from the Agric session to the Arts and Entertainment, Mrs. Joke Silva also spoke on passion, declaring that “in whatever one does, passion is number one”. She advised that the audience should be sure of God’s leading before going into acting because there are lots of challenges. According to the veteran actress, “the enter­tainment industry is an industry of influence; however one needs to be well informed before going into it”. She further explained that there are various careers in the industry that can create wealth for anyone going in with full knowledge of the terrain. She used that platform as an opportunity to introduce LUFODO ACADEMY OF PERFORMING ARTS (LAPA), a performing art academy established and run by her and her husband, where interested members could be trained to become professional sound artistes. The school offers various courses, ranging from acting, radio and television presentation, screen production, etc.

Obi Asika, a content provider and producer in Nollywood, majored on the technological aspect of producing contents for entertainment. Talking on mentoring, he complained about the wrong attitude of most of the youths nowadays as they just want to get to the top without being mentored by experts. He further expatiated the use of phones to provide and produce content in the entertainment industry. He left the stage with a word “if you could combine your energy and passion with technology in 2011, you would win”.

Mr. Mahmood Ali-Balogun spoke on directing, an aspect of the entertainment industry, corroborating Joke Sylva that there are lots of careers in production that could lverage the youths, but one needs some training from an expert as an apprentice, as one does not necessarily have to be formally educated.
As a Fountaineer and a worker in the Audio-visual Department, he advised youths of the church to join the camera unit of the church as that will serve as a training ground for them. Encouraging them also not to neglect their dreams, he cited himself as an example, having paid his dues at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) for years before establishing his own business. He finally identified commitment and training as the key forces in entertainment. In his words “though it takes time, be committed and you will get there”.

Mr. Korede Olabanji enlightened the audience on how to manage their business and work until it blossoms. He advised the audience, some of whom might have been carried away by the lectures of the day, not to quit their jobs until they were sure their passions could take them there. The chartered accountant and a fellow of ICAN, who left all that for photography, warned against greed. He also complained about the issue of youths’ loyalty to their masters, he advised that “we are not in this world to compete; your gift will speak for you”. He quoted that “nothing great is ever produced without talent. He left the stage with a quote from 1 Thessalonians 4:11 and advised the audience to “start your own business”.

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