The Son Who Taught the Father
By Elijah Mwashayenyi, EWS-KT Head of Africa
KADUNA STATE, NIGERIA — As I travel across Africa in my role as Head of Africa for East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation (EWS-KT), I have the privilege of encountering inspirational stories that capture the imagination.
Abubakar Magaji is a man with such a story.
This young man, who hails from Kudan Local Government Area, has brought a whole new meaning to the saying “Like father, like son.” At 23, Abubakar is a farmer, just like his father, but he has taken farming to the next level in such a way that his father and siblings have followed suit. His achievements have emerged courtesy of training from EWS-KT.
Like many in their area, the Magaji family has a long history of farming, but in the traditional way. For the youth, they are looking for more modern ways of farming, and they want to see the money . . . literally. The toil of their parents—and often their own toil as well—is not lost on their minds, and hence they tend to seek other opportunities in life than farming. The Abubakar Magaji story is different. Abubakar saw an opportunity and grabbed it with both hands.
When Abubakar first met with EWS-KT Technical Field Officer Dachung Luka, something at the back of his mind told him that his life would change forever. Therefore, he had no qualms about accepting Dachung’s message of quality seed, new technologies, and good agricultural practices.
Abubakar volunteered to be an EWS-KT key farmer, with up to 30 neighboring farmers learning from his demonstration plot, where he employed modern agricultural techniques to grow cabbages and tomatoes. His farming ventures have so far enabled him to buy a water pump and a bicycle, which he says is just the beginning. He envisions even better things to come.
Abubakar is especially happy that, despite his youthful age, his father and siblings regard him as a role model, as someone who is transforming the family for the better. When I visited the young man’s cabbage and tomato plots, his 75-year-old father, Musa Adamu Magaji, insisted that I visit one of his own plots of newly transplanted cabbage . . . and I did.
“I am proud of my son,” Abubakar’s father said. “He is teaching us better ways of farming. Instead of him learning from me, I am learning from him. We are all learning from him.”
Indeed, they are. In addition to the father, six of Abubakar’s siblings and his uncle have adopted good farming practices from him.
Abubakar is a young man who surely knows what he wants in life:
- Now that funds are no longer a problem, he wants to write his high school national exit exam—something he never got a chance to do, due to lack of money. He says he wants to do this more for personal satisfaction than anything else; he wants to remain a farmer because he has realized that there is money to be made in vegetable farming.
- In his new role as a volunteer Community Farmer Trainer, he wants to continue training his neighbors who are adopting his practices. He finds satisfaction in seeing other farmers follow his trajectory.
- He wants to expand his production, using funds from his produce to do so. He also says that if an opportunity for access to finance comes along, he will take it.
Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to visit many of the farmers who invited me to their plots to see the modern practices they have adopted. Hopefully I can do so during my next visit. When I do, it is likely that I will have another inspirational youth story to share, as the youth of northern Nigeria are realizing that vegetable production and smart marketing can transform their lives. With East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation on their side, their dreams will surely come true . . . just like what is happening with one bright young man from Kudan and his family.