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 DG wins debate on engaging youth in agribusiness

Africa’s statistics on youth unemployment can be overwhelming but to a visionary it is an untapped resource with the potential of changing the status quo of poverty and hunger which are often synonymous with the continent. The great challenge of youth unemployment can also be seen as an opportunity for them to become the engine spearheading the ‘green revolution’ in the continent.

This was the argument which clinched the keenly contested debate at the Young Africa Works summit on “Agriculture as a sector of economic opportunity for youth in sub-Saharan Africa” in favor of IITA Director General Nteranya Sanginga.

The debate was organized by MasterCard Foundation at the Old Harbour Conference

Picture of DG Nteranya Sanginga (left) on the debate floor DG Nteranya Sanginga on the debate floor.
DG Nteranya Sanginga (left) on the debate floor with Eleni Gabre-Madhin (moderator) and Jim Sumberg (right)

Centre, Westin Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa on 29 October. Sanginga went up against Jim Sumberg of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), UK. The debate was moderated by Eleni Gabre-Madhin, Co-founder and CEO, Eleni.

About 300 thought leaders from NGOs, government, donor agencies, and the private sector committed to developing sustainable youth employment strategies in Africa congregated to discuss best practices and effective approaches for preparing young people for employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in agriculture.

During the contest, Sanginga emphasized the plight of employable youth in Africa. He stated that every year 10-12 million young people seek to enter the continent’s workforce but without success. Despite the opportunities in agriculture, African youths lack access to arable land, credit, improved technologies, practical skills and fair markets as well as other logistics and services necessary for succeeding in agribusiness. Even with opportunities opening up, most educated youth are skeptical about opportunities in agriculture.

However, using IITA’s Youth Agripreneurs initiative as an example, Sanginga effectively argued that agribusiness can be profitable for youth if they are given the right skills. He indicated that steering rural enterprise along commodity value chains within the context of professional agriculture can have a huge influence on both the livelihoods of the youth and the process of agricultural transformation. Following this approach, numerous agribusiness incubations have established many profitable enterprises including intensive vegetable production, marketing of new varieties of cereal and legume seed, fish farming and associated activities, and value-added processing of soybean and cassava.

Given opportunities and incentives, and mind-set change, rural youth can profitably be redirected toward agribusiness, service provision and market-oriented agriculture, with a huge impact upon their rural communities. Different models developed by IITA, AGRA, FARA, and CTA offer stepwise approaches to strengthening the skills of youth in agribusiness and are ripe for expansion and integration.

Sanginga therefore called for the development of a comprehensive program that forges widespread commitment and partnership, indicating that combining approaches in an effective manner would lead to delivering cost-effective opportunities to the youth for profitable agribusiness development. He specified that this sort of effort must not only extend well beyond reorientation and formal training; rather it must involve the development of detailed agribusiness plans and credit-worthy loan applications, leading to the establishment of a massive network of new business ventures and services across the entire agricultural value chain.

Young people vouch for agriculture to fight joblessness

18 August was  United Nation’s Youth day to create awareness on the importance of  engaging youth politically, economically and socially which is  essential for the achievement of  sustainable human development.  We speak to a few of the young people engaged in Agriculture at IITA to hear their  experiences and views on how to engage young people in agriculture and research. 

Members of the Tanzania Youth Agripreneurs pose for a group photo as they prepare to plant vegetables in their greenhouse

Veronica Kebwe, is the chairlady of Tanzania Youth Agripreneurs (TYA), a group of young people that have come together to engage in agribusiness with support from IITA and other partners. She has been providing leadership to the group since its formation, one a half years ago and says the group has been making progress in their agribusiness ventures.

Veronica Kebwe, chairlady of the TYA

“TYA members are now well equipped with agribusiness entrepreneurship skills. Currently we are producing/processing high quality cassava flour, soy milk/yoghurt, making various food products from cassava, growing tomatoes and providing weed management service through safe use of herbicides.

“For the time I have been leading TYA, I have discovered that there are many agriculture opportunities that the youth can utilize for their own development. However, they need to be patient and committed. Many youth who engage in agriculture expect to make a profit within a short time and they give up when this does not happen.

“Capacity building is also very important. If youth are provided with enough capital, they cannot be productive and benefit from agribusiness, unless they are well trained.”

On today’s youth day she encourages youth to be their own problem solvers. “Agriculture can be a solution to unemployment. There are many opportunities in the agriculture sector. The youth should keep their eyes and ears open, and be ready to put effort to benefit from agribusiness. Youth can be at the forefront of action to fight poverty. ”

Plenty of opportunities to be exploited

Mariam Senn, member TYA

“Before joining the group, I had very little knowledge on agribusinesses. Now I realize there are a lot of opportunities in agribusiness that we young people can explore to create income for ourselves. People need food to survive, but not only food, but healthy food, so we are assured of a market for our agriculture produces,” says Mariam A. Sein, also a member of the TYA.

“I have learned a lot from all the training we have received, such as on cassava production/management, soy processing/production and applications of herbicide for weed management. I am now capable of producing/processing soymilk and making and cooking various cassava recipes such as donuts.

“Being a member of TYA has not only changed my mindset on agribusiness, but also exposed me to a lot of opportunities through the travels to other countries in sub-Saharan African countries and getting to meet and connect with fellow youth with interest in agriculture.

Maria observes that very few youth are engaged in agriculture. “This is because many of them perceive agriculture as an ‘inferior’ sector. Much still needs to be done to change this mindset and make the youth aware about the opportunities they can get from the agriculture sector.

On this youth day, Maria appreciates all ongoing efforts from governments to donors and institutions such as IITA to empower youth to find creative ways to generate income for themselves, She also urges the youth to keep their eyes open for any opportunities.

Equip youth with sufficient knowledge

“I simply enjoy what  I am doing as it contributes to controlling diseases that attack  farmers’ produce  and contributes to the country’s development,” says Christopher Mduda, a bachelor’s degree holder of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology and an intern at the IITA Eastern Africa hub conducting research under the supervision of IITA senior scientist James Legg.

Christopher Mduda photo image
Christopher Mduda: intern at IITA

He has been extracting DNA from cassava leaves and describes his stint with IITA as a wonderful learning experience that has built his confidence in performing molecular research.

“Most youth have negative perceptions about agriculture. This is because youth are not well exposed to many of the opportunities available. The youth are active and energetic; they can be at the core of development if they are equipped with sufficient agriculture knowledge and fully supported. They can make marvelous changes in the society”.

Reuben Samweli: Research Technician

Reuben S. Samweli, an IITA Research Technician with a degree in Biotechnology and laboratory, also says youth engagement in agriculture is key for development and tackling the high levels of  unemployment in many countries.

“Engaging youth in agriculture sectors can help deter them from engaging in anti-social behaviors such as drug addiction, alcoholism, sexual addiction, and crime. However, the support received from government and non-government organizations is inadequate. There is also poor flow of information.

“There is a need to provide information on existing opportunities to the youth across the country. There are many programs/project launched for supporting youth development; however the youth are not able to engage and benefit from them as they are not aware of them. If the youth are fully engaged in agriculture, they can play a big role in reducing levels of unemployment.

“The youth have a great role to play in supporting development and they should sufficiently be empowered, well involved, and linked with key players in the agricultural sector.”

 IITA support to Tanzania Youth

IITA is currently running a program to empower youth to use agriculture as a tool to tackle youth unemployment across sub-Saharan Africa through training and by supporting them to carry out various agribusinesses. The program, IITA Youth Agripreneurs, was launched in 2012 at IITA Headquarters in Ibadan, Nigeria. In Tanzania, the program started in January 2014 at IITA’s Eastern Africa hub in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and is supervised by Adebayo Abass, IITA’s Value Addition Specialist at the hub.

The group is currently engaged in processing soymilk, high quality cassava flour with the brand name Mpishi Mkuu, selling maize, and growing tomatoes. The group is also benefiting in participating in youth programs across the world, and members are exposed and linked with potential development actors within and outside the country.

IITA is also constructing a training center at a cost of US$1.5 million at Kwembe (about 25 km from Dar es Salaam City center) to equip the youth with skills in production and processing and running successful agribusinesses.

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.

DRC prime minister visits IITA-Kinshasa; strongly supports youth engagement in agriculture

Agriculture has been identified as a major sector which can help to increase growth in the economy of African countries,” said the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Matata Ponyo Mapon, on 14 July, at an exhibition organized by the Government and IITA.

The exhibition Young Congolese and Agribusiness showcased various products derived from cassava and soybean at the Prime Minister’s garden in Kinshasa.

Speaking during the exhibition, Mr Matata Ponyo said the Government had identified the youth as “agents of change that would bring the necessary technologies and zeal to revolutionize the agricultural sector.”

He added that the government shared IITA’s vision of improving agriculture through research, science-driven agriculture, and youth involvement in the sector.

“The organization of this exhibition is a testimony to the engagement of the President, His Excellency Joseph Kabila, the Prime Minister, and other ministries to improve agriculture especially in the rural areas,” he said.

Impressed by the activities of IITA especially on youth involvement in agriculture, the Prime Minister commended IITA Director General Nteranya Sanginga, for IITA’s youth initiative and promised that the country would support the spread of the initiative.

Picture of The IITA Youth Agripreneurs showcasing food products developed from various staple crops.
The IITA Youth Agripreneurs showcase food products developed from various staple crops.

Dr Mahungu Nzola-Meso, IITA’s country representative, thanked the Prime Minister and members of the cabinet for the opportunity given to IITA to showcase agriculture from a new dimension. The IITA Youth Agripreneurs initiative is spreading across Africa and aims at reducing youth unemployment around the continent.

“Agriculture is the best sector to bring youth into business. IITA joined in the same view by initiating the Agripreneur model which is now well known on the continent. Young Agripreneurs are really committed to learn business using agriculture along the value chain from the seeds to the consumer,” he said.

He added that chapters of the youth group already existed in parts of DRC such as Bukavu, Kinshasa, and Kisangani. There are expectations that the model would be extended to other parts of the country.

The different groups of the IITA Youth Agripreneurs in DRC were joined by their counterparts from Nigeria for the exhibition.

The exhibition is an outcome of the visit to IITA Nigeria by two special advisers to the Prime Minister, Mr Gerome Masankisi Kamwanga and John Ulimwengu, in June this year to explore areas of partnership and investment with the Institute.

CGIAR top managers visit IITA Business Incubation Platform

While participating in the Humidtropics conference on systems research this week, CGIAR top managers Frank Rijsberman and Ann Tutwiler found some time to visit IITA’s Business Incubation Platform (BIP). They were accompanied by IITA Board member Roel Merckx and IWMI’s Africa Director Timothy Williams, and welcomed by the IITA’s DG Nteranya Sanginga and the IITA Youth Agripreneurs. The Agripreneurs are promoting agriculture among other young people in the region through peer education, training, and demonstration on agricultural best practices and business skills in value chain developments.

DG Nteranya Sanginga explaining about the soybean inoculant Nodumax, IITA Business Incubation Platform.
DG Nteranya Sanginga explaining about the soybean inoculant Nodumax, IITA Business Incubation Platform.

“All over Africa, many young people are migrating to cities in search of business opportunities, leaving behind an increasingly ageing population. The challenge is to create business opportunities for productive activity in agriculture and non-farm enterprises, for increased food security but also for combating youth unemployment,” said Dr Sanginga.

CGIAR CEO Rijsberman congratulated IITA for “pioneering the agripreneur approach” and underlined that a precise investment model on integrating the challenge of youth unemployment into research on food security had not yet been established in the consortium. Bioversity DG Tutwiler was in particular pleased that the Agripreneurs were working on nutritional cash crops, vegetables, and soy milk, and were investing in fish farming.

IITA Business Incubation Platform.
IITA Business Incubation Platform.

“When we decided in CGIAR on our main crops, we might have forgotten the nutritional values that vegetables and fish can bring to a diet – not only to improve food deficiencies, but also as a measure against obesity,” she said. Dr Sanginga emphasized that the annual return on investment in the fish ponds managed by the IITA Youth Agripreneurs was about $400,000.

The goal of the BIP aflasafe plant and laboratories is to develop cheaper, more effective formulations and manufacturing methods for a product which is combating the deadly aflatoxins found in major staple crops in Africa. The plant is compatible with African farming and business models and can easily be transferred to the private sector. The aflasafe plant is also busy manufacturing the urgently needed product to answer increasing requests from all over the continent. On the day of the visit, the plant was about to produce 8 tons of aflasafe to be air-shipped to Kenya in the evening.

“This is our answer to a request from the Kenyan Government,” explained Lawrence Kaptoge, the aflasafe plant manager. “In Kenya we need to fight aflatoxins now because strains of the plant fungus have already killed many people, as well as increasing the cases of deadly diseases, such as liver cancer.”

The plant can produce up to 40 tons of aflasafe a day but the BIP’s main goal is to get interested parties to invest in plant construction and laboratories all over Africa. More plants and reference laboratories are expected to be built, as the aflatoxin strains are different in each region; they need to be identified before the right aflasafe product can be developed and manufactured. “The many existing requests from countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, or Senegal prove that the BIP has developed a business opportunity that improves food safety and might help to save many lives in Africa,” said Kaptoge.

NoduMax is a new legume inoculant for soybean that was recently developed at BIP with the award- winning N2Africa Project. Each package of NoduMax costs about $1.03 to produce and, with manufacturer’s and retailers’ inputs, is expected to be sold for about $2.60, sufficient to inoculate 10 to 20 kg of soybean seeds. The product compares favorably to inoculants produced in other countries where product quality is closely regulated. Product development and efficacy testing continue and the first packages of NoduMax intended for sale are now being produced. The registration of the product for commercial distribution in Nigeria is under way and the first peak production run is just starting as 16 tons of the soybean inoculant are to be produced by April 2015.

The visitors were visibly impressed: “A new vision, passionate people, and promising developments – there is huge potential in IITA’s approach for developing the BIP,” concluded Dr Rijsberman.

Dream it, work hard, and you will Make it Happen


The tough journeys

“When I went to the United States, to do my Masters, I was the only black person in my class, the only female, and the only foreigner. On top of that I had two small children. It was not easy. However, with determination and hard work, I was able to do exceedingly well in my studies, ” says Dr Mary Mgonja, the Head of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Dr Mary Mgonja, Head of AGRA in Tanzania sharing her journey to becoming a scientist. Next to her is Dr Rose Shayo from the Institute of Development Studies, University of Dar es Salaam.
Dr Mary Mgonja, Head of AGRA in Tanzania sharing her journey to becoming a scientist. Next to her is Dr Rose Shayo from the Institute of Development Studies, University of Dar es Salaam.

Dr Mgonja was sharing her journey on becoming a successful scientist as part of a panel discussion organized to mark this year’s International Women’s Day held at IITA offices in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The event dubbed “#Make It Happen for Women in Science” was in line with this year’s theme of the day “Make It Happen.”

The panel discussion brought together female researchers in Tanzania working in diverse research fields and at various levels of their career―those starting out and those at their peak to discuss and share their stories, successes, and challenges before an audience of IITA researchers and partners, the media, and aspiring young scientists drawn from surrounding secondary schools.

The panel members: From left, Dr Francesca Nelson, Dr Costancia Rugumaru, Ms Mary Maganga, Dr Rose Shayo, Dr Mary Mgonja and Ms Eddah Mushi.

In addition to Dr Mgonja, the other panelists were Dr Costancia Rugumaru, Dean, Faculty of Science at the University of Dar es Salaam, School of Education; Dr Francesca Nelson, Senior Food Security Specialist, IITA; and Mary Maganga  and Edda Mushi, both Research Supervisors at IITA. The session was facilitated by Dr Rose Shayo, a Senior Lecturer at IDS.

All the panelists shared on the various challenges they had undergone and the lessons they had learned along the way and offered words of encouragement to potential female scientists on the theme that kept repeating itself―hard work.

“In all the places you will work, be yourself, respect your superiors, and do your job well,” said Dr Regina Kapinga who will be joining IITA as Head of Advocacy and Resource Mobilization from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr Kapinga shared her journey from a simple village girl to working as a Senior Program Officer with the Gates Foundation.

Dr Kapinga
Dr Kapinga shares on her journey from a simple village girl to an international researcher in Seattle, USA as the facilitator, Dr Dr Rose Shayo looks on.

“One of my biggest challenges was the lack of facilities to study science in my high school. We did not have laboratories and equipment, however, I persevered, did well, and processed to the university to pursue my degree in agronomy. At the university, we were very few students as many women said agronomy was very hard,” added Edda Mushi, on her challenges in school.

Eddah Mushi, a young researchershares on her short but challenging journey to becoming a researcher at IITA
Eddah Mushi, a young researchershares on her short but challenging journey to becoming a researcher at IITA

Dr Franscesca Nelson focused on the importance of tackling existing social conventions which were disadvantageous to women. These included issues such as violence against women and discrimination of women that were deeply rooted in cultural beliefs and social norms.

???????????????????????????????She also noted it was important for female researchers to use their knowledge and skills to find solutions to the challenges faced by poor rural women. For example, developing labor saving equipment and tackling inequalities.

Gender at IITA

Dr Manyong welcoming  the participants
Dr Manyong welcoming the participants

While officially opening the event Dr Victor Manyong, IITA Director for Eastern Africa briefed participants on gender issues at the Institute. He said gender was very important to IITA as an international research organization whose goal was to tackle hunger, poverty, and malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa.

“We cannot address poverty, hunger, and malnutrition in Africa without understanding and addressing the constraints faced by women farmers who in most communities provide the majority of agricultural labor on the family farm, and process food for markets as well as family consumption.  In some communities, they are not allowed to own land or other agricultural assets and they have no say in any decisions on farm incomes and activities,” he said.

Dr Manyong added, “It’s therefore important to factor these considerations in our research-for-development interventions to ensure they benefit all Africans, women and men alike.”


Science students from near by school listen keenly
A science student from a near by school listens keenly

The students from nearby secondary schools invited to the  event appreciated the opportunity to meet and hear from successful researchers and said  they had been  very inspired.

“We were very happy to meet all these senior successful scientists who have motivated us and showed us that science can be for girls. We do not have many such opportunities and wish there would be more of such forums and even reach out to more girls including those in the rural areas,” said Glory Venance, a form 5 student at Jangwani Secondary School.  “However, in our school similar to what one of the panelists shared, we do not have good facilities and equipment. Therefore even as we are being motivated to take up science, the government should also look into this challenge.”

The event was declared to be successful in many ways and the participants urged IITA and its partner institutions to find ways to organize other such forums to motivate girls to take up science and encourage the young scientists starting their careers.

The event was organized by the IITA in collaboration with AGRA and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) of the University of Dar es Salaam.

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



Oyo State to partner with IITA on youth development


Governor Ajimobi (Second from left) with his entourage and IITA management team during a visit to the office of IYA.
Governor Ajimobi (Second from left) with his entourage and IITA management team during a visit to the office of IYA.

The Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi has pledged his administration’s willingness to work with IITA towards addressing youth unemployment and food insecurity.

The Governor has also made a commitment to support the construction of a youth training center in IITA. This came at the request of the Director General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, during the Governor’s visit to IITA on 20 November 2013 in which he also commissioned new facilities at the headquarters of IITA in Ibadan and also visited the office of the IYA.

Governor Ajimobi cited striking figures that highlighted the need and benefits of an agribusiness center as a means of training the youth in Oyo State.

“I congratulate and also commend the IITA Youth Agripreneurs and the management of IITA for paying attention to the high rate unemployment in Oyo State.”

Governor Ajimobi also cited how his own administration’s work complements that of IITA.

Earlier, members of the IYA made presentations describing the nature of their project. The group explained that they aim to unlock the potential of agriculture thereby attracting and engaging young men and women in agribusiness to create decent employment opportunities comparable to those in other sectors.

After the presentation, the Governor was accompanied to the seed processing center by the youth where he saw the seed processing machine in operation and had a view of produce from the fields cultivated by the IYA.