When you encounter him, his body frame belies what his ambition is – he intends to feed the nation and to empower youths like himself. His belief is huge. His dreams are adventurous. He wants to help Nigeria and the rest of Africa achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 2 . He wants to end hunger through his trade – Agriculture and Agro business.
Welcome to the world of Ajibola Olaide Zakariyyah popularly known as Mazota. He is a graduate of Animal Production and Health at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho.
Having picked more than a passing interest in the business of tilling the land and rearing animals, Mazota was throughout his stay in the university making money through consultancy and practical farming. However, his passion pushed him further when he registered his own agro-business company in 2016. This company is his special purpose vehicle to drive his agro consultancy job. Through this firm, he consults for both known and upcoming farmers in Osun and neighbouring states. Not only that, he empowered people, especially youth, in the different areas of agriculture. He teaches snailery, fishery, poultry, bee-keeping, animal husbandry and others to provide jobs for the teeming youth in the South West. This has seen him partner with a number of youth focused organizations. Such partnership has resulted in empowerment for the beneficiaries.
The Osogbo-born agric-preneur said his venturing into agriculture is born out of his exposure to massive poverty of a large number of people in the country. He said, “ I am motivated by two things. One, by the exposure and knowledge of the practical life of a poor man and innocent masses. Two, I realized how important it is for human beings to prepare for the future.” Mazota’s quest to empower at every available opportunity is tied to his watchword of living a purposeful life. He philosophized that “ the struggle to make money is insignificant when compared to what is needed to live a meaningful and purposeful life.”
As a 28-year old forward thinking agric business man, Mazota, thinks of the future as well as the present. He believes the Sustainable Development Goal 2 of Zero hunger could only be achieved if a radical way of teaching Agriculture is introduced into the Nigerian educational curriculum right from basic to tertiary level. This would ensure agric business is a way of life for all adult Nigerians. With the availability of arable land across different parts of the country, Nigeria has no business with hunger. This prompted him to register an agriculture academy early 2019. He invested massively in the farm dedicated to teaching. The Agric-Academy is a registered complete agricultural school and a socio-economic empowerment institution housing over twenty different animal units, over thirty different crops and more than forty different horticultural plants (flowers). The aim was to teach and also expose students of various schools within and outside Osun state to agriculture in its practical terms. The different units are basically for excursion, training and research purposes –these are the three reasons for which Mazota Agric-Academy was established.
Mazota is as entrepreneurial as he is philosophical. When asked how he got his capital, the LAUTECH graduate drew insight from his mother’s sayings about money and the need. He stated, “Money would have been a problem but for the words of my mother who always prove to us that as significant as money is, yet it is not the first in our journey to greatness. This lesson has so far been a life-long lesson to me and it has always been my primary initial capital in all my doings.” Nevertheless, he admitted that his secondary initial capital was raised through charges from petty agro consultancy services rendered to some new and existing farmers in Osogbo. He has a big dream of his 3-year-old project in the next five years. He has multiple expectations on the extent of his business growth in the next five years. On this, he excitedly said “I see the business to have grown more wings to become a great agent in ending hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, the second of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Nigeria. He rested his huge dream on the high capacity of Agriculture to provide food security and abundant jobs for all Nigerians. He chipped in “Come to think of it, Nigeria has a population of over two hundred million people; all must eat to live!”
His advice for the Nigerian youth and graduates generally was for them to rise above the present situation in the country to make life better for themselves despite the much complained about the failure of the political class. He said “the Nigerian education system, her economy and the fate of youth and graduates are three parallel lines whose probability of meeting is unfortunately zero. It is therefore of great importance for the youth or undergraduates to rise above this and tap God’s own resources around us as all of us cannot tap from the nation’s wealth of crude oil.” He concluded that agriculture is the way to go as youth could not afford to let the numerous resources keep wasting under their watch. He preached positive thinking, innovations and entrepreneurship as the three pillars of development Nigerian youth should key into.