In Nigeria Paul studied agricultural economics at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka. After graduation, he got a job as graduate assistant at the department of agricultural economics. Now he studies Management Economics and Consumer Studies in Wageningen with the help of the het Anne van den Ban Fund.
Impotance of education
“I’m from a family of civil servants and smallholder farmers. My parents were primary school teachers and are retired now. For sure they know the value of education. A foreign master would benefit my career and the institute I worked for. To finance my study in Wageningen, I took a bank loan and borrowed money from people I knew. It’s wasn’t sufficient for two full years, but I expected to supplement this with a small job. The tuition fee was paid by Wageningen University.
“The extra earnings were disappointing. First, I couldn’t find a job and second, the study pace was so high I even wouldn’t have had the time. I racked my brains to solve my problem. Until I found out that I also could apply for the Anne van den Ban Fund as a second year student. There positive response saved me. To me, the sponsors are heroes. With the knowledge I gained here, I can improve the lives of other students and generations.
“In Nigeria, I studied agricultural economics at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka. After graduation, I got a job as graduate assistant at the department of agricultural economics. What is the source of my interest in economics is? Sixty five percent of the Nigerian labour force are into farming. If you want to improve their lives, you must improve the market and provide them a viable market. Then farmers get better prices, children can attend school and their livelihood will be improved. In the region where I grew up, no one made any money because there was no good market.
“In my thesis research I look at the risks of disruption risks in the grain chain in Nigeria, like droughts, natural disasters and institutional risks, for the aggregate volumes in the chains of grains like maize and rice. How much can a farmer still produce in those circumstances, and what will be the effect on storage and processing? And what if this causes shortages? These are gripping questions, also in the light of Nigerians wish for self-sufficiency in food production. Rice is still being imported, but maize production has risen to a self-sufficiency level in case of internal processing. I want to research the sustainability of the agro-economic policy and the long term effects.
“After graduation, I can return to the faculty of agriculture and make promotion. Next to new knowledge I’ll bring home new ways of learning and knowledge transfer. Here, I’ve learned the value of discussions and continuous attention for knowledge application. What I would rather do is policy research and work with farmers. If you want to change farmers practices, you must cooperate and do practical experiments together.
“I’d also like to bring society into the institution, by cooperation with business and institutions and better internships. For my bachelor, I did my internship at the university farm, like many students. It would be better if everybody worked for different companies. If the university want to have impact, the university must change the way of teaching. People who were educated abroad, like me, bring in useful knowledge."