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Youth in Agriculture provides biggest potential for mass job creation in Africa

Feb 06, 2015

The creation of business opportunities for unemployed youth in the agricultural sector is at the center stage of an African wide initiative led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.

In his address at the opening session of a three-day business training for young entrepreneurs in agriculture, the Representative of the Honorable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Lekan Quadri, Regional Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), developed his keynote on the links between youth unemployment and the opportunities of an agrarian economy, which would provide "the biggest potential for mass job creation".

More than 60 youth participants from six countries across Africa are attending the business training "Empowering Agripreneurs on Agripreneural and Business Management" taking place 3-6 February at the headquarters of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.

The Representative of the Honorable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development further acknowledged "the immense contribution of the Director General of IITA for the youth-in-agriculture initiative that started under his leadership". 

Dr Nteranya Sanginga, the Director General of IITA, had started the IITA Youth Agripreneurs—a landmark program that provides youth from diverse disciplines training and opportunities to engage in agricultural business or entrepreneurship. During the opening program, he invited participants to proactively seek synergies for answering needs in the development of youth and agriculture. "The African Development Bank has declared a big interest in partnership engagement for youth and agriculture, the reason why I call upon you for your ideas and support", he said. He emphasized that he does not see a development in Africa without unemployed youth engaging in agriculture.

Sanginga further explained that inclusive growth of the continent could be achieved through the joint implementation of mechanisms in agribusiness which would work for both farmers and consumers. "A young 'agripreneur' coming from a communication background is working with fish now. First, you might think communication and fish?where is the link?... but when you start understanding how sales figures of fish products can increase throughout value chains by involving young people coming from different sectors, such as communication or marketing, it might become an eye-opener for you in engaging in new partnership opportunities."

Guests at the opening included representatives from the private sector, including Ekimiks Nigeria Limited, Durante Fish Industry, and Skretting Nutreco Company, the University of Ibadan, and FMARD.

Chief Moji Ladipo, a former registrar of the University of Ibadan, spoke on the importance of being prepared for opportunities. Chief Ladipo encouraged the participants to be passionate about what they do.

Mr Ekiyor Tope Miriki, the Chief Executive Officer of Ekimiks Nigeria Limited and sponsor of the workshop, said that the program was designed to not only create opportunities but to also help young people exit the unemployment cycle. With the business survival rate being less than 50%, a business in agriculture is even more demanding due to the economics involved in the process, he stated.

To respond to these challenges, the IITA-established Youth Agripreneurs scheme is piloting an approach that consists of young women and men focusing on promoting agriculture among other young people through training and demonstration on agricultural best practices and the value chain in Nigeria. The scheme also supports initiatives in Tanzania, DR Congo, Zambia, Kenya, and Mozambique.

 

Source: Ghana Web

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