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‘Mentorship, training can boost youths’ interest in agric’

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Ndukwe

Miss Chiamaka Ndukwe is a corps member serving with the Lagos State Agriculture Development Authority and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AgroHive, a not-for-profit initiative that trains young farmers and links them up with commercial farmers for internship and employment. In this interview, she said internship and mentorship could lead to passion and this could stimulate youth interest in the sector. IBE WADA presents the excerpts:

Why are you so passionate about agriculture when your mates are aspiring to work in banks and telecommunication companies?
Our passion for agriculture drives us. Everyone needs food, and everyone needs a decent lifestyle. Agriculture can serve the two needs. It can provide abundant food, and it can get some people sustainably engaged for improved living conditions.

Hence, this is a social enterprise that trains youths and women in Nigeria with skills that are relevant in agricultural sector after which we link them up with agribusinesses that want productivity in their various areas. So far, about 1,000 people have been trained in Nigeria. They are trained in Imo and Lagos states.

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How do the beneficiaries remain relevant after training?
After training, we link them up to established commercial farms that need their skills, because we understand not every young person or rural woman can afford to start up a farm. Instead of letting their skills waste, we link them up with existing big farms.

What has been the impact of the linkup?
So far, the linkup has reduced unemployment and improved the quality of lives of the beneficiaries.

In what ways has the government contributed to the agribusiness empowerment scheme?
We have been lucky to have the New Nigeria Foundation and British-American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) as sponsors to organise a programme called Farmers for Future for people, especially youth corps members, on agriculture. The aim is to introduce more young people to agriculture and viable means of survival through agriculture and AgroHive is the second winner of the price money of N1.5 million.

Apart from the fund, they also mentored us. They organised an intensive boot-camp where we were trained on how to develop a structured business. They also attached us to mentors that would be able to guide us.

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Apart from linking trainees to commercial farms, can you shed light on how they become independent?
We train them regularly to ensure skill improvement. We ensure they are paid well because we are the one negotiating their pays. We train them in farm management skills, use of farming software to manage the farm properly and take good records of the farm products.

Again, we are looking at agro drones training for the young people, especially for graduates. We are looking at training them on the use of farm machinery, because we know that 80 per cent of agribusiness needs technologists to handle some of their farm operations and they are in short supply currently.

How do you ensure constant productivity among the trainees?
Once we outsource them to these agribusinesses, we re-train them regularly for skills upgrade and ensure quality is not diminished. We ensure they are also paid well since we are involved in the negotiation process.

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