Sports is majorly referred to as a global language, a language that cuts across race, age, sex, class, and nationality. Although sports is literally not a language, its general acceptance globally makes it seem so. Sports lovers can draw entertainment, pleasure, a sense of competition, and fulfillment from just the thought of partaking in the activity. Sports draws off tens of billions of viewers yearly, It is estimated that more than half of the world’s population consider themselves to be football (soccer) fans, mind you football is just one of the top 5 biggest sports in the world with at least a billion fans globally (followed by cricket, basketball, hockey, and Tennis). Another global ‘language’ the world should speak but shy away from is agriculture, Agriculture’s importance to man can not be overemphasized yet it hardly draws the same level of interest, participation, and patronage amongst youths like sports.
From Farming (Food production) to Animal husbandry, Crops Retailing, and Transportation, Agriculture plays a far more crucial role to the economy and nature over sports. Unlike Sports, where the majority of fans are youths (which represents a large percentage of Africa’s vibrant and literate population) Agriculture is more secluded to the aged and illiterate, a noble profession abandoned to obscurity due to misinformation and inadequacies. The mentality that farmers and agric enthusiasts are largely poor and unattractive to society has seen many shy away from a gold mine that can generate and sustain wealth for ages. Agriculture is very essential as every man must feed, if there are no agricultural processes in place there would be a food scarcity problem and nobody plays sports on an empty stomach, there’ll be no cheering from the stands and no energy to go on. Agriculture in Africa has a market share projected to reach $1trillon by 2030, Agriculture is also a major potential employer of labor with numerous opportunities in the production, processing, retailing and locomotion of farm outputs whereas Sports in Africa has a meager $3.5B market share and many will need to be scouted to have an opportunity to make it to the global stage. Hence the question is not Why are the youths more vested in sports than Agriculture but what can Agriculture learn from sports to increase interest, participation, and patronage especially amongst youths.
In 2003, Former Chelsea striker, Didier Drogba stopped a civil war in his native ivory coast by posting a video alongside his teammates at the world cup qualifiers urging his countrymen to put aside their rivalry and embrace peace in the name of football. One video, one man with a clear message using football as a uniting index to stop a war… that is some influence! the influence sports have on people is mind-blowing. Over 63,000 people watched the Uefa Champions League final while the NFL Playoffs recorded over 71,000 people in attendance, similar numbers are recorded at cricket, baseball, and even the fierce of sporting events including boxing, wrestling, etc.
Sports is not just portrayed as a lifesaver in that numerous famous stars have walked the path of sports to prosperity from humble beginnings, take a cue from Serge Ibaka, Ibaka used basketball as an escape from a young age to take his mind away from his mother’s untimely death and his father’s imprisonment that took place during the Second Congo War. After numerous attempts to get away from the Congo, Ibaka finally moved to Europe at the age of 17. Today, Serge Ibaka’s story of a distant lifetime of war and poverty is a tale of inspiration to youths across Africa as they seek sporting alternatives to escape poverty.
The rationale of the story of agric in Africa needs to change, more people need to talk about Bolaji Akinboro, a studios business analyst, investor and radical thinker who looked into the agricultural sector and saw possibilities, created more opportunities from the possibilities he saw to pioneer a digital marketplace where agro commerce thrives, this technology has been used by governments, institutions and individuals to curb the problem of food security and availability in Africa. More should be said of Akinwunmi Adesina, Nigeria’s agricultural mega mind, who is bent on transforming Africa’s agric space to a global pedestal where paddy rice produced in Adamawa is in food stalls at New York, the groundnut harvested in kano is snacked on at the Formula 1 race grounds in Sri Lanka, the kente fabric made in Kumasi is rocked and styled by Europeans. Mr. Adesina’s dream should be Africa’s dream. How does Africa key into this, how do more people gain knowledge and be actively involved in making this dream a reality?
Typically, If the story is interesting, inspiring, and rewarding, more people will care to listen and read it or tell someone else, that way motivation is inspired in people. One way is to celebrate the cited leaders, engage and educate the youths of their values, ideals, and impact. Sports personalities like Cristiano Ronaldo, Usain Bolt, and Anthony Joshua are idolized for their impact in their respective field and similar, maybe more can be said of Nigeria’s dynamic duo. If youths can see Agro players in this vein, then they can generate genuine interest in agriculture and not just another the ‘get out of poverty scheme’ they view sports.
Subsequently, we will be looking into what sports is getting right and how the agric sector can imitate, We have outlined five of such practices and these points will be elaborately discussed in the coming weeks. Subscribe for more posts below to get articles delivered to you immediately they are published.