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ByFE: Bookers Youth Farm Enterprise

Provide free quality education and skills for youths from extremely poor homes in Urban Nigeria.

Photo of Aminat Damilola Adeyemi
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Ifo, 35 minutes to Lagos toll-gate.

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

VEIS: Venus Entrepreneurship and ICT School for Girls. Agrika Nigeria Ltd ixit.com.ng Logix IT Solutions ABIF--Adebabson Integrated Farms Limited RUFORUM--Regional University Forum DOPE--De-Olivette Print Enterprise YFAN--Youth Farmers Association of Nigeria

Website of Legally Registered Entity

https://www.instagram.com/bookerschools/

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Ifo, Ogun State, Nigeria. 35 minutes to Lagos, Nigeria toll-gate.

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Nigeria

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Ifo is a Local Government Area in Ogun State, Nigeria.

What country is your selected Place located in?

Nigeria

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

THE TOWN

Ifo is a border town close to Lagos state, Nigeria. It is a sprawling residential area filled with families from Lagos Mainland, and once home to hundreds of large farms in the 90s. Over the years, many of these farms had shutdown, and presently, Ifo has no jobs for its half-a-million youths, making it one of the most unsafe neighborhoods in Nigeria.

Ifo was the first town I lived after losing my parents since I worked on one of its largest farms. I fell in love with the serene town, its rocks, its weather, the curves of its hills, and its peculiar cloudy morning. I adore its rivers and greenness.

THE PEOPLE:

Most of the youths of Ifo are disillusioned with farming. Their fathers and forefathers were farmers, and most had died poor. The people had little or zero innovation; agriculture in Ifo was like agriculture 100 years ago. Half the young people have gone into trading, and farming is majorly done by elderly people.

After working in different farms for over 10 years, I co-founded an integrated farm which is now, renamed ByFE: Bookers Youth Farm Enterprise, where youths within the community train for free.

I have permanently lived in Ifo since 2014 and made it my home and business place. I could have created Bookers International School in Lagos where half the elites in the entire country reside but decided Lagos has many schools and social intervention so, I decided to create Bookers in Ifo.

I have made Ifo my crucible, as I have my entire investment in it, home, school and farms. I have worked with over 5,000 people there and found my husband in this place, and we both co-founded Bookers International Schools.

Due to the high rate of prostitution, I decided to focus on young women. I was once given the hard choice of either picking prostitution as a child, or working long hours in the farms, I was lucky I had good moral values and decided I will pick dignity, agriculture skills and education.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Ifo is the largest market for farm produces in Lagos and Ogun state and the center of the two states with a combined population of 40,000,000 people. Ifo has a very large market where over 500,000 traders visit weekly. Since the town shares it border with Lagos which is the most populated city in Nigeria, with a population of over 30,000,000, Ifo remains majorly a farming settlement, where thousands of family run different farming business.

Ifo is a boiling point of different ethnicities and African nationalities that are mainly interested in agriculture and farming. Beside this, the inner parts of Ifo is entirely serene. Most of the houses are isolated as land ownership is extremely cheap in Ifo which allows for farming. A plot of land measuring 60x120 feet goes for roughly $2000 to $3000, and many elderly couples have retired in Ifo, as farmers.

The weather in Ifo is like the typical West African weather: summer, rainy season and the Harmatten which encourages farming.

Ifo has over 10 different languages, although its official language remains Yoruba and English which is spoken majorly by the youths. There are over 500 churches, mosques and shrines. There are houses in Ifo holding Christians, Muslims and traditional religious people. There are Ghanaians; there are French speakers from the Republic of Benin, a country that shares its borders with the nearest town to Ifo--Ilaro. There are Hausas, Fulani, Ibos, and the main native of the land, Yoruba. I once identified young people from Senegal, Mali, Gambia, and Uganda during our "Cultural Day" which is a yearly event in the school.

Ifo has over 1,000 rural settlements within it, and these include Ibogun, Sholu, Abule Ogun, Bokuru, Ajipate, Gudugba, and others. There are also over 100 urban settlements in Ifo which connects with these rural areas, and the most popular urban areas include: Ososun, Ijoko, Oyero, Alagbado, Arigbajo, Coker and other extremely congested and popular areas.

The elderly people attach extreme importance to farming in Ifo. It was after all the lifeblood of the town. Ifo is famous for its abnormally large yams, cassava and very red tomatoes. Ifo has the largest market for farm produces in the entire South West of Nigeria. It is home to the largest pig farm estate and settlements in the whole of Nigeria. There are fish farmers associations, there cassava sellers association and dozen association of specialized farmers. It has a very large market where over 500,000 traders visit weekly to only food and meat.

Since the town shares it border with Lagos which is the most populated city in Nigeria, with a population of over 30,000,000, Ifo remains majorly a farming settlement, where thousands of family run different farming business.

The hope of the people remains agriculture. The government since 1999 had zoned Ifo as an agriculture settlement. 

The main diets in Ifo remains eba, amala, rice which are high carbohydrate food—made from yams, cocoyam and cassava. The rice locally planted is called Ofada. These foods are consumed with soup which are usually vegetable soups made from Ugwu—pumpkin leaves, Okra, spinach and other healthy veggies. 

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)

521

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

3800

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

The major challenge the food system in Ifo is facing is "education, modern farming skills."

Despite having one of the largest markets in West Africa, there are issues with farm waste and preservations. The farmers have little skills besides what was handed down to them by their forefathers, and there is little effort to increase standards and quality so they can harvest more, and earn more money.

The major crops are yams, cassava, tomatoes, pepper, and livestock. Besides this, there has been little or zero innovation. There is no technology, modernization, and even our school farm projects had to wait for months, sometimes missing the rainy season while queuing for the government's tractor. There is one tractor to almost 5,000 farmers in Ifo, and even the tractor is extremely old and faulty.

With the government subsidy on fertilizers, farm lands are been degraded in the farmers’ efforts to increase harvests and yields. There is a need for sustainable and eco-education for the farmers, and with more people living in Ifo, farmers are selling farms lands to estate developers. Also, there are challenges with river pollution. Most of the farmers in Ifo dump their farm waste and plastic trash inside rivers, thereby polluting natural rivers and killing the fishes.

With the wasteful culture of the Yoruba popular for throwing lavish parties, there is always excessive food waste. And with the occasional power cuts, (Ifo gets roughly 72 hours of power supply in a month) there is need to educate farmers and the locals on how to generate their own power using technology so they preserve foods.

Ultimately, Ifo will become another impoverished town with its growing population, polluted rivers, and degraded lands. The farmers will become poorer and continue to operate crudely; the markets will have lesser food from the local farmers, there will be more food wastage due to lack of preservation, and there will be greater crime and other social vices since the youths will see farming as a ‘wretched profession.’

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

I co-founded Bookers International Schools in 2014 to solve these challenges and even more.

The school leverages on two innovations to address these challenges in a very unique way.

BOOKERS 50:50 EDUCATION MODEL:

At first, we wanted to create a charity school but after visiting the charity schools around, we noticed most had shut down over the years as they entirely depended on donations.

My co-founder suggested the 50:50 Model, and today our model is been replicated by several schools in Ogun and Lagos State, Nigeria.

The 50:50 Model runs in a school where the entire students’ population is divided into two. Half, (students from rich homes) pay full tuition, while the other 50% of the students (from extremely poor homes) are on full scholarships. This model has allowed Bookers International School to empower over 1,000 students since 2014, and there currently 509 students on full scholarships in the school receiving quality and world class education.

(ByFE) – Bookers Youth Farm Enterprise.

Since we receive over 5,000 scholarship applications yearly in Ogun state alone, and can only accommodate 200 scholarship students yearly, in 2015, we created ByFE to accommodate the youths within the community.

With immense focus on providing skills for majorly young women, ByFe opened on three farms where the youths within the community learn and work. ByFE runs on a “LEWEM--Learn, Work and Earn Model” where students learn, work, and at the end of every harvest they get some percentage of money made by the farm. ByFE runs a three to six year Agritech vocational class and field training. The training and work schedule is extremely flexible that even public school students and university students are participants. Also, ByFE is mainly run by youths and volunteers on our Farm I, II and Farm III. 

With a plan to launch FIFS: Farm Internship Finder Software, an app that will connect over 50,000 farms in Nigeria with youths who want agriculture skills and internship program, we intend revolutionize Urban Agriculture in Ifo, and ultimately West Africa.

Our goal is to make farming trendy and lucrative. We have been successful since we launched our: “Home Farm Challenge in 2018.” Currently, we have 200 youths raising livestock in their homes which include turkey, chickens, pigs, cows, goats, puppies, catfishes, and snails with a combine worth of over $30,000. These were formerly young people who depended on daily stipend of $1. Over 100 of our youths have after graduating our training started their own farms.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Since our core focus is mainly education and agritech skills, we have presently made great progress and will continue to have greater impact. Presently, we are engaging over 3,000 youths. We work with them daily and even on weekends.

In 2018, we started "House Farm Challenge" as we intend to train 2,000 young people who will be making profits of roughly $500-$10,000 yearly from raising chickens, goats, snails, fishes, puppies, cows, pigs, ostriches and other livestock. Our students were asked to start a “House Farm,” and we currently have over 200 youths with their farms in a corner of their house.

These young people have raised turkeys, goats, chickens, snails, cows and others. Their livestock have a combined value of over $50,000. These are mostly young people who formerly depended on daily stipend of $1 from their parents. We are trying to change the mindset of the average Ifo youth away from crime and the girls away from the “common hustle,” which is prostitution.

Ifo is a notorious for violence, banditry, and prostitution. There are tens of thousands of gangs and very young mothers, and we have been able to transform the lives of many of these youths.

Many of these youths are even able to fund their university education with profits from their own farms. And we have many who have co-founded pig, chicken, vegetable and different farms while employing other young people.

We have also created opportunities for over 100 volunteers who include local farmers, science, soil and animal scientists to train our youth participants. For one of our most passionate volunteer, Mr. Dapo, he discovered a new-found passion and will be returning to the university to do his masters at age 60!

We hope we can better the lives of the 500,000 youths in Ifo, by taking them back to agrictulure, and let them see its beauty.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

The River Ososun used to be my sanctuary as a teenager. During the day, the birds were as noisy as a church's choir. The river has water so clean that we used to drink from it.

In 2014, the river had turned to a highway for plastic and trash. It was so filthy that I felt heartbroken when I visited it.

I met with the school boards and insisted on creating Eco-Education. Although then we didn’t know exactly how to make the class very effective but after creating ByFE: Bookers Youth Farm Enterprise, we worked with volunteers who assisted in make the program very comprehensive.

We created several programs that focuses on protecting the environment and these are some of them:

1. Sustainable Education

2. AgriX

Our “Sustainable” class focuses on managing farm waste and protecting farm lands from abuses and degradation. Over the years, our program has created six student entrepreneurs who are currently changing the community. One of the students, Shayo Fadairo is currently making boards, plates and cups from agriculture waste, although his inventions are still crude, but we intend to provide him with additional funding in 2021 so he can improve his products. Shayo made coolers from rice husks, sugar cane waste, and other farming waste products. He is currently working with the school and we hope we can build a lasting partnership with him.

Agrix is a project under our ByFE--Bookers Youth Farm Enterprise which looks into practicing what we called: "Extra-Agriculture." AgriX looks into every single way of helping the planet, and improving the ecosystem. Through our AgriX classes, we currently discover an eco-friendly fertilizer that is far better than the chemical-based ones. These fertilizers are made from different waste products such as eggshells, maggots, and other items. With the aide of the fertilizer, we have harvested more plants, and made greater profits from our school farms, such that we are now in competition with bigger farms.

Our AgriX also encourages students to plant more trees, and we are currently planning to transform our school to an Eco-School, a school where we will "reduce electrical consumption by 50%" before 2025 since we will now fully depend on "Palm trees" for fresh air. These trees, 1,000 palm trees are currently growing in the school compounds and farms. The intention is to create natural breeze that would also help reduce C02, while using less fans, and making our school and homes very green.

Our PTA—Parents Teacher Association conferences has become a popular health club due to scores of untimely death from diabetes and heart diseases of adults in Ifo. The average house wife in Ifo are obese due to the bad roads in the town. Some houses are miles away from accessible roads, and most of the farmers move around on motorbikes. The women are usually at home working on the farms. So we have started educating thousands of parents and locals.

In our last meeting, we talked about the dangers of sedentary lifestyle and worrying.

We recently started the "sugar alternative" challenge with parents, and encouraged them to limit carbohydrates and sugar consumption to protect their health. Many of these parents and locals have joined our “Ketogenic club” and are working with us to find fiber and proteins rich alternative to their daily carbs food. We believe that way, we can reduce the scourge of diabetes and heart diseases in Ifo.

Our program is mainly designed to revolutionize Urban Agriculture because urban agriculture represents an opportunity for improving food supply, health conditions, local economy, entrepreneurship, fill the skill gaps, and environmental sustainability.

ByFE was designed solely to create these opportunities for youths in Ifo and Lagos.

Urban agriculture is a common feature of a developing country. Urban dwellers in Nigeria range from 55–60 %, and they are involved worldwide in the agro-food sector. Urban agriculture remains crucial since urban population and rural–urban migration are increasing.

Bookers International School was built on different cultural pillars. The owners are from entirely different backgrounds, the co-founders, a Christian and wife a Muslim.

The school yearly has its cultural days when thousands of students and participants meet in the large school hall while dressing in their cultural dresses. The students are encouraged to cook different cultural food, and explain its health benefits to everyone present. Bookers International School cultural days are colorful events attended by the King of the Community.

In 2020, our cultural day will be on 24th of February, and our theme this year is: "Can Culture cause Longevity," and our students are already submitting their opinions and research. The best will be showcased to thousands of participants.

We explore technology, and know with technology, Africa future remains brighter.

We have a tech-farm project which was introduced in 2019. We want to converge agriculture skills with technology. We want our learners to use technology to enhance their knowledge, and to exploit it to improve agriculture. Currently, we are working with Ixit.com.ng IT solution, a volunteer IT company which provides free coding class for 10 youth participants of our program. With time, our Tech-Farm idea will become a transformative project that will make incredible changes. We hope our students can come up with new ideas on how to protect the environment, track plastics, and manage farm wastes and others.

Through our tech-farm project, Bookers International Schools and Ixit.com.ng have signed a partnership for creating an app called: SWAPF: School Waste and Plastic Finder. The app will be a mobile and computer enabled application that will connect students, youths, and schools with waste and recycling companies. The app will launch in November 2021, and we have already talked with over 200 schools and 30 recycling and waste management companies who want to use the platform.

The app will make paper recycling easy, since schools generate tons of paper waste, thereby reducing deforestation. De-Olivette Print enterprise, a large publishing and paper recycling firm paid $1000 in August 2019 to Ixit.com.ng as part of its commitment to the creation of the app. Ixit.com.ng and Bookers International Schools will commercialize this app and make recycling and waste management companies pay for its use, while making it entirely free for youths and schools.

The intention is to make every single recyclable waste such as plastic and paper “tracklable” as the app will encouraging the collecting of these items whenever a particular quantity has been collected.

We are doing everything to become a tech-driven program and occasionally we rent mower, tractors, and other farming machines to train our students. We believe technology is the way to go, and we hope we win the competition so we can mechanize and modernize our school farms.

Our over-obsession with excellence had pushed us far beyond the shores of Nigeria, and taken our names to International Conference Halls, and we know the best policy is excellence.

These include building a safe and nurturing place for our students and youth participants. We emphasis security and this also includes having a safe and happy place for our workers and volunteers to function effectively and efficiently.

We train our students, and teachers on how to provide first aid treatment, and take safety as the most important policy any business can focus on—safety. Farm tools and machines are treated carefully, and we have great maintenance culture.

Our policy empowers women more; we believe African women should be encouraged to shine—and we strongly believe Africa will become a great nation if it’s women are empowered, educated and given skills. Our work place is filled with women 88%, and they are majorly the policy makers and play the key role.

There are codes of conducts to learners, teachers and volunteers who work with us. There are occasional disciplinary actions and need to face a panel for errant workers or youths.

Students and youth participants in our school and its programs are made to be passionate about hard work—we think luck is entirely dependent on excellence. We don't take any day off, the school is open on Saturdays and Sundays to our learners.

Discipline is our hallmark; we have our 10 commandments—and the first commandment is: “Never come late to school or the farm.”

The rules cover both teachers and students, and everyone understands their responsibilities. And we award the best among our students, participants, teachers and volunteers yearly with cash $100 to $300.

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Great project! IITA agriprenuer team have recently commenced a program tagged 'start them young'. Your project will definitely provide them with guidelines for success.

Are graduates of your program usually self employed or employees of farms be it startups or established farms?

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