The youth entrepreneurship in Agribusiness Project: The journey so far
It is no longer news that the Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA) facilitated the training of about 3,300 youths under the Youth Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness Project (YEAP) starting in 2021. The plan was to train these youths in modern technology-driven agrifood systems and provide them with enterprise support. While the training for these youths has been completed, enterprise support has been offered on an ongoing basis.
Last year, about 100 of these 3300 youths got an opportunity to practice the skills they acquired when some of those in the crop production enterprise were given one hectare of farmland at the Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub. They were also assisted with land clearing using tractors, and inputs were provided through the World Bank-assisted Oyo State COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (OYS-CARES) programme Result Area 2.
An additional over 100 youths were supported in various farm groups across 11 LGAs. In total, over 200 of the YEAP beneficiaries each received 25 bundles of cassava, 2.5 bags of fertiliser, and one litre of herbicide.
Earlier, to kick off the OYS-CARES programme, 20 of the YEAP beneficiaries were absorbed into the project as Facilitators and Desk Officers. OYSADA was dogged and tenacious in ensuring these youths are supported. OYSADA ensured that all the youth slots in programmes and projects run by OYSADA were allocated to YEAP beneficiaries.
According to the Director General of OYSADA, Dr Debo Akande, this was strategic. OYSADA knew it might not be possible to get the funds needed to provide enterprise support for these youths under Omituntun 1.0, so the agencies decided to provide ongoing support through various projects and partnerships. “We were always on the lookout to see how we could create opportunities for these youths. For example, over 800 youths will be supported through the OYS-CARES project alone.”
Drawing from the database of 3,300 youth beneficiaries who are subscribed to various enterprises, OYSADA provides ongoing enterprise support while awaiting the complete roll-out of support for these youths as promised by Governor Seyi Makinde. The agency has, as Dr Akande once stated, “continued to find ways to keep these youths engaged within the state to boost the Oyo State economy and ensure knowledge transfer.”
For example, five youths were supported by partnering with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). They received further training in producing High-Quality Cassava Peel (HQCP) as livestock feed. They were provided with the needed machinery to go into production. And some of their products were displayed during the first Oyo State Agribusiness Summit in 2021. They have now been relocated to the Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub where they continue production.
Another set of 21 youths got sprayers courtesy of the IITA-Oyo GIZ Spray Service Provider (SSP) programme. These sprayers are used to apply herbicides on farms – an on-demand service that farmers require and are ready to pay for. Still another 25 youths were supported under the Oyo GIZ Village Based Advisors (VBA) programme.
It is clear that YEAP is another success story under Omituntun 1.0. From the selection process to providing enterprise support, OYSADA has maintained transparency in action and communication around the project. For example, similar to other training and recruitment opportunities under the administration of Governor Seyi Makinde in Oyo State, YEAP was open to all youths aged 25-35 years, and many beneficiaries who knew no one in the corridors of power were able to partake in the programme.
Also, while OYSADA was charged with overseeing the entire project, for inclusivity, selection for training was made by the Local Government Council. So, for the first batch of training, each LGA selected about 100 participants who were then biometrically captured and added to the Oyo State farmer database. Similarly, payment for the training was provided by the local government authorities and routed directly to the management of CSS Integrated Farms at Gora, Nasarawa State.
It is a well-known fact that the training YEAP beneficiaries received was world-class. YEAP beneficiaries attest to this fact themselves. One beneficiary from Afijio LGA described the training as “just what she needed” to expand her fishery business. Beneficiaries of the training have talked about how they were introduced to the business side of agriculture and educated about the best practices to increase yield and productivity across various enterprises and value chains.
This knowledge from the training at Nasarawa is an asset that could be utilised with or without the government’s support. In fact, while waiting for the promised enterprise support from the government, some beneficiaries have already put the knowledge acquired to good use by starting up their own agribusiness ventures, including holding training programmes to transfer their knowledge to other budding agropreneurs like Lasisi Ridwan, founder of SOG Agribusiness Hub is doing.
As of the last count, about 500 YEAP beneficiaries have received enterprise support from the Oyo State Government through OYSADA. Yet, there is more to come. With the complete subscription of the Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub, OYSADA is entering partnerships with the private sector to provide support for some of these youths, especially in dairy and livestock production. Friesland Campina, Brownhill Farms and Milkin Barn are already in talks with the agency.
More recently, with the planned asset distribution to 1,390 farmers in 27 LGAs, under OYS-CARES, OYSADA will again draw from the database of youth farmers to fulfil the expected 40% youth inclusion. This means that 556 YEAP beneficiaries will be supported. Presently, over 150 youths have received this support in the form of mechanical weeders, pump machines & accessories, knapsack sprayers & Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), battery cages and kiln-fish cabinets.
Of course, Governor Seyi Makinde also promised to ‘empower all youths… trained in agribusiness with independent enterprise support’ in his Oyo State Roadmap for Sustainable Development 2023-2027 tagged Omitunun 2.0. OYSADA will therefore continue to provide further enterprise support for the youths trained under Omituntun 1.0. Surely, for YEAP beneficiaries, the future is bright. Their goal to become agropreneurs and contribute meaningfully to the Oyo State economy remains on track.