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Irene Jacobs has had a passion for agriculture since secondary school. Now, as a 20-year-old senior at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) in Ogun State, Irene continues her journey into agriculture by specializing in agricultural extension and rural development. She is particularly interested in horticultural crops because of their potential for rapid returns on investment, making them ideal choices for an ambitious young farmer such as herself. She currently cultivates cucumber and amaranthus and plans to expand into pepper farming.

Irene’s agricultural journey took a significant leap forward when she encountered the HortiNigeria program through the FUNAAB innovation hub in 2023. This hub is one of 14 established by the program across southwestern Nigeria, designed to pilot innovations that aim to boost productivity and reduce dependency on vegetables from northern Nigeria. Through her engagement with the hub, Irene has undergone training sessions focused on cutting-edge techniques, such as seedling production, installation of irrigation pumps, and cucumber production.

One of the most transformative experiences for Irene was her introduction to the solar irrigation pump.

“This technology has given me and other entrepreneurial farmers in this hub a competitive advantage because we do not have to wait for rain to irrigate the farm. We can maintain production throughout the year, guaranteeing a consistent income stream.”

Irene Jacobs

Another important aspect of Irene’s training was her exposure to advanced seedling production techniques. Previously accustomed only to traditional broadcasting methods, Irene learned through this training about the technologies of seedling trays and coco peat. This revolution in her farming practice has significantly enhanced her efficiency in crop production.

Exposing young entrepreneurial farmers like Irene to innovations in agriculture unlocks their potential to drive sustainable and productive farming practices. Working toward her goal of expanding her agricultural enterprise, Irene Jacobs is an example of the new generation of farmers transforming the landscape of horticulture in Nigeria through HortiNigeria.

HortiNigeria (2021-2025) is implemented through a consortium led by IFDC that includes East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer (EWS-KT)Wageningen University and Research (WUR), and KIT Royal Tropical Institute and is funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Nigeria.