In August 2012, a group of Nigerian Youth Corp (NYSC) members, trained at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Headquarters, Ibadan (Nigeria) established the IITA Agripreneurs (IYA) as an independent agribusiness enterprise involved in the production, processing and marketing that cuts across value chains of several crops as well as the production and marketing of vegetables and fish. The overall objectives of IYA is to re-orientate rural youths towards more productive engagement in agriculture through expanded opportunities in agribusiness, service provision, and market-oriented agriculture.
Also in Borno State, Nigeria, there is an urgent need to empower youths. At the same time Agriculture is a means to generate wealth an reduce empowerment among youth by providing opportunities in agribusiness. Therefore, the IYA, in collaboration with N2Africa project, organized a training workshop on "Agribusiness, a Key to Productive Youth Engagement" from 3rd – 24th of September, 2014 at the IITA Kano Station, Kano (Nigeria). The workshop was supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation under the N2Africa Borno Program.
The objectives of the training workshop were to:
- Build the capacity of youths to embrace agriculture and agribusiness as income generating activities by training them on the best practices across value chains of appropriate commodities.
- Develop their entrepreneurial skills in agribusiness to promote self-dependence.
- Facilitate the replication of the IYA model in Borno State.
These objectives were achieved through lectures, practical demonstrations, plenary discussions, and field trips. At the end of the training, the trainee participants were provided materials in the form of e-books and removable disks containing the presentations.
The trainees consisted of 20 participants (13 males and 7 females) from southern Borno State while the trainers were five members of IYA (3 males and 2 females). The resource persons were scientists of IITA Kano Station and ICRISAT-Nigeria.
The training workshop covered the following three themes:
- Sensitization and changing the mindset of youths.
- Production, marketing and utilization of crops (sorghum, pearl millet, cowpea, soybean and groundnuts) and fish.
- Facilitating the establishment of a viable youth in agribusiness group in Borno State.
1. Presentations to sensitize and change the mindset of youths comprised the following:
(i) Key note address by N2Africa Country Coordinator; (ii) Exploiting agribusiness to unlock jobs; (iii) Agribusiness: Key to productive youth employment; (iv) ICT in agribusiness; (v) Using stakeholders’ platform to increase productivity of cropping systems in the Nigerian savannas; and (vi) Improving productivity of small-holder farmers in the dry savannas of West Africa through research and extension partnership.
2. Presentations aimed at improving trainees’ knowledge of producing, handling and marketing of fish and selected crops addressed the following:
(i) Cowpea production; (ii) Soybean production; (iii) Maize production; (iv) Sorghum production; (v) Pearl millet production; (vi) Groundnut seed production; (vii) Guide to certified seed production of maize, cowpea and soybean; (viii) Safe and effective use of pesticides; (ix) Fish farming: Catfish hatchery and production; and (x) Fish farming: Fish pond systems and management.
3. Presentations aimed at facilitating establishment of viable youth in agribusiness in Borno State as a pioneer model: These included:
(i) The IYA organizational structure; (ii) Introduction to business development; (iii) Concepts of entrepreneurship; (iv) Book-keeping and accounting; and (v) Fish farming logistics and profitability.
The trainees and their IYA trainers visited the following research fields on three different occasions:
(i) ICRISAT pearl millet and sorghum trials at Minjibir Research Farm; (ii) ICRISAT groundnut trials at Minjibir Research Farm; and (iii) IITA Agronomy trials at Shika, Zaria.
The training ended on September 24, 2014 with closing remarks by the Director General of IITA who was represented by Dr. Gbassey Tarawali, the Station Manager of IITA Kubwa Station.
Alpha Kamara and team