The youth conference was emotionally charged and fun; our visit to Tuns Farms was all business.
Being at Tuns Farms in Osun State we got to see farming of livestock on a commercial scale. Why is this significant you say? Well when the portrayal of farming on the continent tends to only show subsistence farming it was refreshing to see a large scale profitable operation that is also doing its part within its community. In partnership with the state governor’s office, Tuns Farms is supplying chickens for the school feeding scheme, O-Meals; in addition to an employment creation initiative called the Osun Boiler Outgrower Production Scheme, or OBOPS for short (there are a lot of ‘O’ Schemes in ‘O’sun State). These are examples of a successful Public Private Partnership between the state, Tuns Farms and small scale famers to improve skills and increase employment and a food program to ensure all state school children are well fed, which had led to an increase in school enrollment in the state.
The farm was interesting and it made me hungry for some KFC (Tuns are their main chicken suppliers in Nigeria); our meeting with the Osun State Deputy Governor, Mrs Titilayo Laoye-Tomori, was refreshing. From the offset I knew I was in the presence of a woman in charge, yet humble as she went round the room of 20+ young people asking each their name and a little bit about themselves. An impromptu request to ‘dobale’ by Ike (AFFORD UK delegate) at the feet of the deputy when she found out he was soon to be married to a woman from Osun relaxed the room, allowing us all to feel free in her presence. The deputy spoke of the O-Meals scheme and the surprisingly fast reduction in delinquency in primary schools across the state and the O-Yes scheme put in place to deal head on with youth unemployment to empower them while looking for a job.
When asked what we should tell the diaspora when we return to the UK/US she asked us to look around us, there is so much untapped beauty in the state like the Erin Ijesha Olumirin Waterfall and the magnificent seven steps. When Nigerians and the international community come to visit, Lagos or Abuja should not be the only places they visit; places like the waterfall are in the words of the deputy herself ‘as beautiful as the great waterfalls like the Victoria falls tourist attraction’. We should be adventurous and seek out the hidden gems that Nigeria has to offer.