“They are an opportunity if we convert their energies (the youth) to agricultural development but they could be a ‘time bomb’ if we fail to do so,” President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Dr Kanayo Nwanze.
The above words were expressed by the IFAD President Dr Nwanze during his speech in August 2012 when he visited the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan Nigeria. Among other things he stressed the need to increase investments in agricultural research for development stating that it would bring about transformation and help address the rising wave of youth unemployment and poverty.
The IFAD President’s word were so dear to the heart of the IITA Director General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga that the following month (September 2012) he launched the IITA Youth Agripreneur Program with the focus on promoting agriculture among youth, training them and exposing them to the agricultural value chain.
It was thus with excitement that on 19 September 2013, the Young Professionals in Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD) Nigeria team met to interact with these youths who have enjoyed being part of the IITA Youth Agripreneur Program as they marked their one year anniversary and also tell them about the YPARD network.
IITA Youth Agripreneur Program
The IITA Youth Agripreneur Program kicked off in September 2012 with serving Corp members at the Institute. There are presently 11 men and 12 women under this program. The program focuses on hands-on training on plantain/banana sucker production, seed multiplication both certified and foundation, and cassava stem and root production. In the past year, the participants have also worked on the farm, visited other farms, and had the opportunity to be trained by various experts in the field of agriculture through workshops and on-farm demonstrations.
A unique feature of this program is that these youth have graduated from various non-agricultural fields. For example, some are graduates of History, Quantity Survey, and Economics to mention a few. The participants were provided with a befitting office, farm equipment, farm overalls and boots, farm land, and a project vehicle.
The YPARD Nigeria Team had a lovely time with the participants. The meeting which was facilitated by the IITA Corporate Communications Officer for West and Central Africa, Godwin Atser kicked off with a brief introduction about the IITA Youth Agripreneur Program by its Coordinator Akinyele Bankole Odunayo (a youth himself). After which Jacqueline Opara from the YPARD Nigeria Team gave a presentation on the activities of the YPARD Network and how they can take advantage of the network. Thereafter, the YPARD Nigeria Country Representative, Olawale Ojo gave a presentation on how youth can use social media to promote and contribute to agriculture and food security. He admonished that these youth use social media to share their experiences and stories during the program stressing that it would serve as a motivation for other young people to follow suit in considering farming and other agriculture endeavours. Group photos and interviews with the participants followed as a rap up of the day’s activities.
Averting a “Time Bomb”
IITA has indeed started contributing to averting a time bomb that would occur if youth are not invested in. And it is an example for all quarters to follow in empowering youth to take up various roles along the agriculture value chain.
We want to appreciate Godwin Atser, who was enthusiastic about these young people and allowed us meet with them. Appreciation also goes to the YPARD Global and Africa offices for their support. I also want to thank Ajilore Oluwabunmi, Opara Jackie, and Jeremiah Majid all of YPARD Nigeria who made out time to meet with these youths. Finally, IITA and IITA Youth Agripreneurs who are setting a fine example for stakeholders and youth to follow.
This piece is written by Mr Olawale Ojo, Country Representative for YPARD in Nigeria…http://ypard.net/2013-october-11/averting-time-bomb-iita-example