IITA celebrates with AfDB President on conferment of honorary doctorate degrees

The Director General of IITA, Nteranya Sanginga and the IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) joined other well-wishers to celebrate with Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), the conferment of honorary doctorate degrees of science award (D.Sc., honoris causa) by the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife, Osun State and Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba (AAUA) in Ondo State on12 and 19 December, respectively.

Dr Akinwumi Adesina receiving his cap and gown during the conferment ceremony.
Dr Akinwumi Adesina receiving his cap and gown during the conferment ceremony.

OAU recognized Adesina’s contribution to the development of science and research in Africa. Adesina is a former researcher at IITA, where he worked from 1995 to 1998.

Other people who were honored by the institution were the Emir of Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, who became the 8th Chancellor of the University; Prof Jacob Kehinde Olupona, Director, African and African-American Studies at Harvard University who bagged the honorary doctorate award of Letters (D.Litt.); and a successful lawyer, Barrister of Law and Solicitor of the Federal Supreme Court of Nigeria, Chief Alex Duduyemi, who was also awarded a Doctor of Business Management (DBM).

Responding on behalf of the awardees, Adesina thanked the University for building the foundation of what he has become in life. Adesina is an alumnus of the University, graduating from the Department of Agricultural Economics with first class honors in 1981. Reminiscing about his journey in life so far, Adesina said the core values of education and character being impacted by the University is world class, and cannot be compared to any other University in the world.

Adesina urged the 2015 graduating PhD students of the university to be worthy of character and not forget the values imparted to them. He stressed the need for them to preserve their integrity and that of the institution at all times and urged them to contribute to society’s development.

“Go out, compete, and win. Failure is not an option. We have faith in you, so rise up, and shine. In the course of doing this, do not forget those who helped you along the way especially your parents and teachers. Their reward should no longer be in heaven”, he said.

Also at the ceremony, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Julius Okojie, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, congratulated the awardees and the graduating students.

He said the government has mapped out strategies to review agriculture policies that will provide employment for youth in the agricultural sector. He said that with the dwindling price of crude oil, agriculture should become the backbone of the economy. He added that the development of farm implements that will make agriculture attractive to youth and also help farmers.

The IITA Youth Agripreneurs made use of the opportunity to showcase their products at an exhibition stand during the event.

Meanwhile, speaking at the AAUA convocation during the institution’s 6th convocation ceremony, the Governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, stressed the need for partners to invest more in education to enhance research and productivity in tertiary institutions. He commended the University for being recognized as the best state university in Nigeria.

Presenting the graduating students to the governing council of the university, Vice Chancellor Igbekele Ajibefun urged the students to remain good ambassadors. He stressed that the university has resolved to continue to produce globally competitive, technology savvy, entrepreneurship-driven, and socially responsible graduates who are problem solvers in a resource-challenged world.

He also urged the awardees to help ensure that the society becomes a better place for younger generations.

Other awardees include Oba Fredrick Obateru Akinruntan, the paramount ruler of Ugbo Kingdom in Ondo State who was honored with the Doctor of Letters and Chief Bisi Ogunjobi, the former AfDB vice president who was also honored with a Doctor of Science.

IITA’s Youth Agripreneurs program takes root in Uganda

The Uganda chapter of the IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) program that seeks to attract educated young people to agribusiness was officially launched on Wednesday 24 June 2015 in Mukono District.

IITA DG speaking to one of the Uganda youth Agripreneurs during a field visit to see some of the farming activities they are already engaged in.
IITA DG speaking to one of the Uganda youth Agripreneurs during a field visit to see some of the
farming activities they are already engaged in.

The Uganda Youth Agripreneurs (UYA) was started in Nabbale, Mukono District, in collaboration with the National Agricultural Research Organisation,  Makerere University and Mukono Local Government. It brings together university graduates in the area from diverse backgrounds that will be trained on modern farming methods, processing, value addition to agricultural produce, and entrepreneurship.

The project was launched by Mr Katooto Habib, a Member of Parliament, in an event that brought together different stakeholders including policymakers, researchers, civil society, and the private and public sectors.

In his speech, MP Habib encouraged the youth to take advantage of the cutting edge technologies in agriculture and urged them to be patient and embrace the saving culture as well. Dr Maggie Kigozi, former Director of Uganda Investment Authority and a major shareholder in Pepsicola Uganda, urged the young people not to see themselves as powerless but instead use the different networks that they have already established to start something meaningful.

The IITA Director General, Dr Sanginga Nteranya on his part advised the youth to be aggressive and very fast and to always consider gender equity in whatever they are doing.“IITA is going to support you in technology, knowledge, and advocacy but you should do the rest of the activities by yourselves,” he said.

The Uganda National Agricultural Research organization (NARO) was also going to provide the youth with technologies that would help in furthering this new journey they had started, according to Dr. Ambrose Agona, NARO Director General. He noted there was a lot of energy in the youth that could be tapped and put to good use.

Dr Piet van Asten, IITA–Uganda country representative, said the formation of the youth program was in response to the high priority during stakeholder engagement exercises that was placed on youth unemployment in Mukono and Wakiso, two districts where the IITA-led Humidtropics program is operating.

“Starting this program today here in Mukono,” he said, “is an indication not only of the usefulness of stakeholder engagement in priority setting but also of the willingness on the research side to follow through what is demanded by the stakeholders.”

Others at the event were Dr Victor Manyong, IITA Director for East Africa; Mr Buyungo Musa, the Coordinator for Parliamentary Forum on Food Security and Population Issues in the Parliament of Uganda, representatives of IYA from Nigeria, Kenya, and Tanzania, and representatives from other partnering institutions such as Makerere University, Uganda Christian University (UCU) as well as various farmers’ organizations.

IYA from Uganda, Nigeria and Tanzania in a group photo with some of the dignitaries present at the launch.
IYA from Uganda, Nigeria and Tanzania in a group photo with some of the dignitaries present at the launch.

African Development Bank, Nigerian Government, and IITA join forces in developing a youth scheme for food security and income in Africa

The African Development Bank (AfDB), the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), and IITA have launched the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program Phase 1 (ATASP-1) today, 6 March at IITA’s office in Abuja, Nigeria.

The ATASP-1 is financed by AfDB to the tune of US$170 million and aims at creating additional incomes to an increased number of producers and entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector in Nigeria by providing about 120,000 jobs along the value chain of priority commodities. An additional 20 million tons of key commodity food crops including cassava, rice, and sorghum will be added to the domestic food supply each year.

Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture (in glasses, center) and DG Nteranya Sanginga (in pink tie) with guests during the stone-laying ceremony in IITA. Abuja.
Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture (in glasses, center) and DG Nteranya Sanginga (in pink tie) with guests during the stone-laying ceremony in IITA. Abuja.

A significant part of the project is developing outreach models with young entrepreneurs in agriculture, “IITA youth agripreneurs”. This component will be implemented by IITA which has established a Youth Agripreneurs scheme at its Headquarters in Ibadan, Oyo State, and in DR Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia. The Agripreneurs are promoting agriculture among other young people in their regions through peer education, training and demonstration of agricultural best practices, and business skills in value chain development.

“Many young people are migrating to cities in search of a better life. We need to create opportunities to engage them productively in agriculture and other business enterprises,” said Dr Nteranya Sanginga, IITA’s Director General during the launch in an interview with reporters. “This project aims to build on the youth model developed in IITA to change mindsets of young men and women and gainfully engage them in agriculture,” he added.

AfDB’s Chief Country Program Coordinator, Andoh Mensah, explained that the project would capitalize on IITA’s participatory approach and would train and retrain young men and women along the commodity value chains. According to him, the ATASP-1 is part of the Bank’s efforts in contributing to the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of the Government of Nigeria, which aims to create 3.5 million jobs along key crop value chains.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria, Dr Akinwumi Adesina underlined that “Africa’s future millionaires and billionaires will make their money from agriculture,” as the governments marshal out plans to unlock wealth from the soil. He estimates that the bulk of this new wealthy population will be made up of young people adept at creating jobs for millions in each African country and bringing business opportunities to rural communities all across the continent. The Minister further enjoined the youth to stop seeing agriculture as a tool for development but as a business.

He reasoned that agriculture is now an exciting sector. “Today, major local and international investors are investing in this sector. The number of seed companies alone has risen dramatically and the banks are lending to the sector more than ever before.”

Adesina is among the five candidates who have been shortlisted to contest the presidency of the African Development Bank.  The AfDB Board said the selection of the most eligible candidates to succeed President Donald Kaberuka was done by a Steering Committee of the Board of Governors at a meeting held in Abidjan on 11 February 2015.  Ethiopia’s Finance Minister, Sufian Ahmed; Cape Verdean Finance Minister, Cristina Kamara; the current Vice President of the Islamic Development Bank, Birama Sidibe; and Chad’s Finance Minister, Kordjé Bedoumra have also been shortlisted for the elections slated for May 2015.

Video: Story of IITA Agripreneurs in Tanzania

Last year, 2014, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) launched an agricultural youth program in Tanzania to contribute to efforts to tackle youth unemployment while, at the same time, using young people to modernize agriculture.

The program is part of an institute wide youth program known as IITA Agripreneurs started at its Headquarters in Ibadan Nigeria three years ago under the leadership of IITA Director General, Nteranya Sanginga. It has since spread to other countries where IITA is working including Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In Tanzania, the program dubbed ‘IITA Tanzania Youth Agripreneurs’ (IYA) brings together graduates of different disciplines keen on pursuing agriculture as a business.  The group has received training on modern farming methods and processing and value addition.

The group is engaged in four activities: production and processing of cassava, maize and soybean, production of vegetables and offering weeding services.

According to Veronica Kabwe, the chairlady of the group, the program is a very good opportunity for the youth: “We are getting free trainings…. It is a big opportunity and we have to take it as youth. The knowledge is very useful not just for IITA but even at home. It’s a very beneficial program for youth and I advise them to take it very seriously,” she says.

Other links:

Tanzania: Youths Deserve Jobs to Sustain Their Daily Lives

Tanzania trains Agripreneurs for agriculture change



IITA’s Youth Agripreneurs convene a 3-week intensive training for the youth in Borno State

The IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) have convened a 3-week intensive agricultural training for selected young people from Borno State. Areas of focus cover on-field sessions on fish farming and production, processing and marketing of maize, cowpea, soybean, millet, groundnut, and sorghum. The training is another in a series of youth empowerment campaigns in Nigeria that the IYA have organized since their inception in 2012. It also endorses the replication of the IITA youth in agribusiness model in Borno.

IITA agripreneurs (Lemon T-Shirt) and Borno youths (Blue T-Shirt) in a group photo during the training.
IITA agripreneurs (Lemon T-Shirt) and Borno youths (Blue T-Shirt) in a group photo during the training.

At the opening session, 3 September, Molayo Owoeye, leading the team of Agripreneur-facilitators from IITA Headquarters in Ibadan, stated “This training will harness the potential of Borno youth to create their own employment, identify the strengths of trainees, and proffer the knowledge and skills required to generate wealth successfully from agriculture.” She added, “The training in particular is about developing entrepreneurial skills in agriculture, helping young people to identify and make use of their innate potentials, strengthen weaknesses, exploit opportunities, and eliminate threats in terms of doing business in agriculture.”

Entrepreneurship in agriculture has become a critical pathway in many African countries for creating employment and simultaneously driving productivity and economic growth. National programs invest in young people with multidisciplinary backgrounds to catalyze economic development while at the same time reducing unemployment and creating income through agribusiness. To support this drive, IYA are motivated to share their experiences with other groups of young people and encourage them to embrace farming as a business and improve their quality of life while contributing meaningfully to sustainable development.

Dr Emmanuel Sangodele is the Nigeria Project Coordinator of the N2Africa program–a large-scale, science research project focused on putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers growing legume crops in Africa. He praised IITA for its concerted efforts in ensuring that youth unemployment is erased in Africa, and said, “The youth initiative and training is extremely insightful and is coming at a time when young people in Borno need financial and occupational stability. N2Africa is strongly committed to collaborate with IYA in launching agribusiness-based solutions to eradicate youth unemployment in Borno.”

Experts in agriculture acted as resource persons for the training. These included Dr Alpha Kamara, Head of the IITA Kano Station, Alhaji Sani Aliu Meedugu, Permanent Secretary/Project Manager, ADP Borno, and Prof Alphonse Emechebe, IITA Plant Pathologist and Independent Plant Management Specialist.

The training was organized in collaboration with N2Africa-to-Borno project under the auspices of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Dr Sanginga calls for youth engagement in agribusiness


IITA DG Sanginga with IYA and members of staff of UNIOSUN after the inaugural lecture
IITA DG Sanginga with IYA and members of staff of UNIOSUN after the inaugural lecture

The Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Dr Nteranya Sanginga has underscored the need for youth engagement in agribusiness. This was part of his presentation at the 2013 Annual Lecture at the College of Agriculture, Osun State University (UNIOSUN).

Making reference to the IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA), Dr Sanginga said the group was proof of the latent potential in the youth being exploited for agricultural benefits.

Dr Sanginga’s topic: “The Need of a Brown Revolution in Africa and Engagement of the Youth in Science-driven Agribusiness” drew insights into the factors constraining agriculture and proffered a road map to the present challenge.

 “What the continent (Africa) needs is not a “Green Revolution” perse but a “Brown Revolution”, he added, stressing that land intensification, rather than “extensification” holds the key to Africa’s agricultural prosperity in the 21st Century. He explained that to close the current yield gap, there needed to be integrated soil fertility management which aims at optimizing fertilizer and organic resource-use efficiency and crop productivity.

Dr Sanginga further said that research should be used as a tool to tackle poverty and other socioeconomic problems. “Research is not an end in itself; rather it should be embarked upon for the sake of development,” he said. The IITA Director General also highlighted the vast disconnect between the gains from research and the realities on farmers’ fields. He said this has brought to the spotlight the need for strategic alliances to ensure proper research delivery.

Prior to the lecture, there was a drama presentation by the UNIOSUN Ejigbo students. Making up the team from IITA were Dr Gbassey Tarawali, Head of the Cassava Value-chain Unit; Mr Godwin Atser, IITA Communications Officer (West & Central Africa); and Ms Victoria Lawal. Also in attendance were the Pro-Chancellor of Osun State University, Prof G.A. Olawoyin; the Vice Chancellor, Prof A.B. Okesina; other members of staff of the university; and other invited guests.