Young people want to be part of the policy discussion, programme development, implementation, working groups and dialogues that produce best practices and sustainable solutions to emerging global issues.
YPARD – Young Professional for Agricultural Development is a name that echoes across continents, regions and countries of the World in promoting agriculture among youths through various strategies and approach.
Having identified that one of the way to combat the problem facing agriculture as a poor career path, is to create a forum for young professionals to come together and brainstorm on high value ideas that are geared toward making changes in the agricultural sector. YPARD Nigeria as one of the many existing chapters recently held a Youth Summit in Abia state with over forty participants in attendance.
At the start of the year, an apiculture training was held in Abia, where fifty young professionals were trained on apiculture farming and evolving business around it. Reminiscing on the promises made during the training led to the seminar with a view to talk about YPARD as a global platform, its role in promoting agriculture among youth and the potentials of agribusiness in creating employment.
The summit started on a high note with recognition of participants and the speakers - Prof. Ukachukwu S.N; Kalu Samuel Anya - Agribusiness Consultant; Nwaogu Kingsley - Apiculturist and YPARD South East Regional Representative; Agbo Chukwunonso - Agribusiness Consultant and YPARD Enugu state Representative and Nwodo Ikechukwu Jude – Animal Physiologist and Abia State Representative.
The start of the program centered on YPARD’s mission and vision, the history that led to the birth of the global platform, the thematic area of operations and objectives, membership projection and benefit of being a member. While discussing on these aspects, the Abia state representative emphasized on progress and plans developed in moving YPARD forward and transforming the agricultural sector through a process where youth can share their views and ideas.
Passing on the baton, Kanu Samuel Anya, shared his experience, success stories and challenges faced in the agribusiness sector. He discussed on the fundamentals on agribusiness as a panacea for youth unemployment. A scenario was painted about unemployment as one of the major problem facing the country and disguised unemployment where young people do tasking jobs with less pay. Proffering solution to the problem of unemployment requires engagement in viable agribusiness operations along the value chain, where young people do not only create employment for themselves but for others and in the process, reducing poverty and contributing to economic growth.
Erasing the fear of the most frequently asked questions about which sector of agriculture and value chain is profitable? He encouraged young people who are venturing into agriculture to identify their areas of interest and pursue it with passion but, he identified some areas where young people can explore such as providing support services for farmers, production of exotic vegetables such as basil, lettuce, cucumber, and carrot. Reinstating that smart agricultural practices and proper marketing strategies are imperative in any agribusiness operation and ultimately, the need to form strong partnership and network with people of the same interest.
One of the foremost speakers with vast experience in agriculture and development issues, Professor Ukachukwu S.N addressed the participants on economic empowerment through agriculture, where points were raised on the discovery of crude oil that led to the abandonment of the natural wealth – agriculture and the high pronounced poverty level, particularly among salary earners.
The speaker identified the potentials of the country to scale up its agriculture and ensure food security but there are limiting factors such as low gender inclusiveness in agriculture and policies, lack of youth interest in agriculture, low capacity empowerment programmes, lack of competitive market for agricultural products, lack of finances and incentives support, among others. He proceeded to challenge young people to think agriculture and create economic opportunities for inclusive growth.
The other speakers spoke on “Apiculture - a sustainable tool for job creation and economic empowerment” and “economic empowerment through crop production - The role of youths” with success stories and case studies to boost youth interest in agriculture.
The meeting ended on a high note with questions and answers from both the participants and the speakers and individuals were challenged to carry on their passion for agriculture and success is inevitable.
Photo credit: Joseph Ikechukwu Jude