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Sipasi Olalekan Ayodele is the most recent recipient of the Africa Youth Award for Agriculture. The CEO of L’Afrika Integrated Farms and ProtectOzone in Nigeria, he was nominated for the award based on his implementation of the Foundations for Farming methods, and for innovations at his poultry farm. Using locally available herbal alternatives he is demonstrating how to avoid the synthetic micronutrients in commercial poultry feed. Contamination in these feed products are linked to nearly a half-million deaths each year. L’Afrika Integrated Farms, and those they have trained, are seeing decreased livestock mortality and improvements in the health and wellbeing of their consumers.

I see Agriculture more as a gift of nature, to keep the world stay active and alive – imagine a world without agriculture, it’s a world in extinction. Every other thing in the world can be seasonal / occasional, but you need me (a farmer) three times daily, hence agriculture is lucrative.

Sipasi started farming at 9 years old with just a cock and a hen given by his grandparents. With careful management, he quickly multiplied his flock into the hundreds. When he moved to Lagos for secondary school he was no longer able to raise chickens, but had not lost his love of animals and livestock management. One of the punishments at school was to work with the pigs and poultry, in order to spend more time with the animals Sipasi would get into trouble on purpose. This activity didn’t lead to academic excellence until his final years at university when he finally got to do some practical, hands-on training and began to amaze his professors. Sipasi now holds a master’s degree in animal science from the University of Ibidan.

On his way to the ECHO Forum in 2015, Sipasi heard an announcement that the airline would be planting some trees in Ethiopia to combat climate change, and decided that the same needed to be done in his country. “The thought of saving our environment to curb climate change through planting of trees stirred me up as an Agriculturalist.” Upon returning home he volunteered with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) Nigeria for 13 months and began advocacy campaigns, trainings, and distribution of tree seeds to combat erosion and climate change in rural communities. This lead to the founding of ProtectOzone in a bid to “mobilize citizen consciousness in protecting the ozone layer through trainings, advocacies, peer education, innovation, mentoring, establishment of sustainable demonstration farms, awareness raising, resources development, and increased knowledge of civic responsibilities.”

Altogether, Sipasi has distributed over 25,000 tree seeds, has planted over 850 trees across Nigeria, and has trained over 4,000 people in sustainable agricultural practices.

In addition to the 2016 Africa Youth Award for Agriculture, Sipasi has been named an ambassador for the country of Nigeria to the Young African Leaders Initiative, an ambassador for Go Green in the City, a Social Innovators Fellow of LEAP Africa, and a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum “the worlds largest youth organization of active citizens influencing their communities positively.” Sipasi counts his ECHOcommunity active development worker membership to be one of his most valuable titles: “ECHO was the height of my exposure to the benefits of sustainable agriculture, it gave me the very first platform to share my experience with the world during the East African Symposium in Arusha.”

Success is not by chance; it can only come through taking informed decisions and be committed to your dreams. Failures are not meant to discourage but build us.

Meet Sipasi – Youth’s of West Africa interview and farm tour on YouTube