Youth Empowerment Through Training In Business Agriculture
TO further maintain its prime position as a driver of agricultural research and entrepreneurship in Africa and beyond, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) threw its training drag net to other countries aside Nigeria. Therefore, several youths were brought together in its Ibadan headquarter facilities for a three-day business training and capacity building.
At the opening session of the training for young entrepreneurs in agriculture, the representative of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Lekan Quadri, Regional Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), bemoaned the high rate of youth unemployment situation in the country and identified agrarian economy as the biggest potential for mass job creation.
The event had more than 60 youth participants from six countries across Africa, who attended the business training on ‘Empowering Agripreneurs on Entrepreneurial and Business Management’ at the Ibadan headquarters and was organised by EKIMIKS Nig. Ltd.
At the training, the DG, IITA, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga said “ in August 2012 a team of young, educated, talented, and energetic Nigerian Youth Corp members trained at IITA established the IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) program. The goal of the program is to re-orient youths towards more productive engagement in agriculture as a business through expanded opportunities in agribusiness, service provision and market-oriented agriculture in a manner that also offers secondary benefits to the larger community.
“Reports indicate that the average age of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa is 65 years, thus, engaging youth will be critical in ensuring food security.”
He said IYA would test the hypothesis that agriculture can provide employment for youth of diverse backgrounds and also change the mindset of youth about agriculture by demonstrating that agriculture is a business and an avenue to create wealth, thus reduce unemployment.
Sanginga explained that inclusive growth of the continent could be achieved through the joint implementation of mechanisms in agribusiness, which would work for both farmers and consumers. “A young ‘agripreneur’ coming from a communication background is working with fish now. First, you might think communication and fish, where is the link?, but when you start understanding how sales figures of fish products can increase throughout value chain by involving young people coming from different sectors, such as communication or marketing, it might become an eye-opener for you in engaging in new partnership opportunities.”
He added that Youth employment is a major problem in Nigeria, “we have been experimenting on how we can take these young people with different disciplines to agriculture as a business and IITA has been sponsoring this programme.”
Mr. Ekiyor Tope Miriki, Chief Executive Officer of Ekimiks Nigeria Limited and sponsor of the workshop, said that the programme was designed not only to create opportunities, but also to help young people exit the unemployment cycle.
With the business survival rate being less than 50 per cent, a business in agriculture is even more demanding due to the economics involved in the process, he stated.
The training captured areas such as leadership and management; essential business skills; building bankable businesses; achieving operational excellence; best practices in commercial crop production and business accounting, among others.
Owoeyo Omolayo, a group leader in the scheme, said: “I joined the institute last year, and I would say it has been a tremendous success because for the past two years, some of the things we have been into, that is, catfish rearing, piggery and marketing of the products have been good success.