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July 25, 2024

IITA Empowers 1,918 Nigerian Youths With Agribusiness Skills, Targets 10,000 Beneficiaries

The Youth in Agribusiness (YAS) project of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has successfully trained 1,918 young individuals across various regions in Nigeria. The YAS project, in its goal to train 10,000 youths between 18 and 35, aims to expose youth to diverse opportunities in agriculture, address unemployment, and boost agricultural productivity for economic growth and poverty alleviation.

In collaboration with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the YAS project conducted training sessions in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Oyo, Kano, and Ogun states in 2023. The participants, carefully selected based on project criteria, received support to enhance their skills and knowledge in agriculture.

As of Wednesday, the IITA reported that the beneficiaries included 543 newcomers to agriculture and 1,375 established business owners seeking to augment their knowledge and productivity. The comprehensive training covered various commodity value chains, including poultry, aquaculture, horticulture, and cassava processing.

The primary objective of the training was to empower participants to apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills in establishing successful enterprises or expanding their existing agricultural businesses.

“In 2023, the project’s inaugural year, the beneficiaries included 463 youths from Ogun State, 473 from the FCT, 476 from Oyo State, and 506 from Kano State. The training covered the production, processing, marketing, and logistics components of the value chains of various commodities. Classroom teaching and field demonstrations were employed to provide a holistic learning experience.

“Additionally, beneficiaries were given the needed support, including access to markets, investors, finance, inputs, as well as coaching and mentoring. They were also reminded about the need to be part of a cooperative and educated on how to access finance by YAS implementing partner, Bopinc, a Dutch NGO.

“Also, in the select states, agribusiness hubs have been established for the benefit of trainees. For example, in Kano State, the project established an aquaculture hub with 1,000 jumbo-sized fish, used for the training and currently being used for continued learning by trainees,” the statement read in part.

It further noted that the project’s goal is to, among other things, train 10,000 youths between the ages of 18 and 35 in viable, sustainable agribusiness enterprises using innovative climate-smart technologies and business practices that increase income and productivity.

“The project also aims to encourage the beneficiaries to set up full-scale production and service facilities.

Well aware of the potential of agriculture to generate employment and boost food security, the YAS project identifies youths as key drivers of this potential in Nigeria. The project is firmly committed to delivering on this mandate.

“The beneficiaries in the various tracks applauded the free training, which they described as an eye-opener and a much-needed boost to their business and entrepreneurship aspirations,” it added.

One of the beneficiaries, Mr David Ekene, said he was excited by the training opportunity, noting that he had always loved all segments of agriculture and was privileged to be part of the training.

“This has been my old time dream,” he noted, as he boasted that with what he learnt, he was prepared to build a business empire while ensuring that other people benefited from the knowledge he acquired.

“Ekene stated, “I find myself privileged to be part of this great move and training. In Africa, we have the land and what it takes, but the technical knowledge on how to go about it is what YAS has brought to us. With this training, I will have an opportunity to create a business empire, not just a little business. The YAS experience is amazing, exciting, and mind-blowing.”

Also, a master’s student in Oyo State, Ms Sanusi Rebecca Titilayo, described her training experience as excellent.

She added, “I learnt aquaculture and value addition, and I have been able to learn how to set up my pond, stock the pond, feed the fish, including the business aspect of it. I don’t want to waste this knowledge; I intend to start up my pond very soon and I will progress from there. The YAS training was wonderful.”

The institute said the project would support the beneficiaries who would contribute to enhancing agricultural productivity, climate resilience, access to services, as well as food and nutrition in Nigeria.

“As we prepare to commence the selection process for the next cohorts of trainees in each quarter of 2024, we extend an open invitation to young people aged 18 to 35, farmers, entrepreneurs, and those passionate about innovative, modern, and profitable farming to seize this opportunity.

“Our firm belief in the ability of educated and supported youths to steer the needed transformation in the agricultural sector as well as engender economic growth, technological advancement, and sustainable agriculture is at the core of this project. We envision the YAS project inspiring a new generation of young agripreneurs while fostering a thriving community of young farmers with a shared vision of sustainable success,” it said.

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