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Made in Naija - the IITA Youth Agripreneurs

IITA Young AgropreneursMy name is Johnbosco, I studied Agriculture and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Soil Science and Land Management from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria. I am also a member of IITA Youth Agripreneur. Often times, we are being asked these questions of; ‘who we are, why we are into this, what we are into, how we are doing this, where we are doing it, and of course when.’ So, I’ve decided to write my first blog to answer the aforementioned questions about us.

The majority of Nigerian youth graduates are unemployed and this had led to several reported cases of restlessness, violence and crime. Consequently, both the Federal and State governments are creating and generating opportunities of gainfully employing the youths in productive ventures of the economy, especially in agriculture.

In August 2012, a team of young educated, talented and energetic Nigerian Youth Corp members trained at IITA established the IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA), an independent agribusiness enterprise, on production and marketing of foundation seed that cuts across value chains of cassava, banana/plantain, soybean, and maize to support the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of the Ministry of Agriculture in Nigeria.

The uniqueness of the team lies in the heterogeneity of the disciplines inherent therein, ranging across the Arts, Sciences and Social Sciences. We have also managed to bridge the gender inequality-gap in the team.

The IYA’s mission is ‘to exploit the various opportunities that exist in the Agricultural value chains as a means of creating wealth, and achieving enhanced income and self dependence for African Youths’. The overall goal is to reorient rural youths toward more productive engagement in agriculture through expanded opportunities in agribusiness, service provision and market-orientated agriculture in a manner that also offers secondary benefits to the larger communities. IYA’s strategy is embedded in a vision of national and peaceful agricultural transformation and reconstruction and built on:

(i) A range of improved seed technology options that will make a difference in people’s lives

(ii) Facilitate access to seed distribution and marketing

(iii) Revival of capacity of youth for research for development in agriculture and

(iv) Forge strategic alliances and partnerships at Local, State and Federal government levels.

The IYA activities will be implemented in major processing zones identified by the ATA in selected States along the Lagos-Kano corridor with technical backstopping done at IITA stations in Ibadan in Oyo, Mokwa in Niger State, Kubwa in Abuja and IITA Kano. IITA Youth Agripreneurs will focus on the following outcomes:

(i) 20% of its members will become selfemployed, owning their own enterprises.

(ii) 20% will be employed by the Business Incubation Platform of IITA (e.g. Aflasafe, Goseed and Nodumax) and other private and public institutions and

(iii) 20% of the team will further their studies with income generated.

A  well established IYA Development program will increase income of 22.000 youth by at least additional US$450 every month as a result of training in agribusiness that allow a 30% increase of foundation seed production, processing, and marketing of the above major stable crops over a period of five years in selected impact zones first in Nigeria and subsequently in other IITA hubs in DR Congo, Tanzania, and Zambia.