IITA records success in youth empowerment programme- Coordinator

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The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture’s (IITA) Agripreneur Youth Empowerment Programme (IYA), has been successful, its coordinator, Miss Evelyn Ohanwusi said on Friday.

Ohanwusi told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan that the IYA, which was established in Nigeria in 2012, had a made substantial progress in empowering African youths for self-employment through agribusiness.

NAN reports that the programme, tagged; IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA), was established to strengthen youth participation in agricultural transformation through agri-business establishment and growth.

“The IYA seeks not only to empower African youths to become employers in the Agribusiness sub-sector but also to assist them to grow their businesses,’’ Ohanwusi said.

She said that the programme recorded a lot of success, especially in the establishment of independent agribusiness enterprises, which had a multiplier effect on job creation.

The IYA coordinator said that through partnership with private and public sector organisations, the trained youths under the programme, had started their independent businesses.

“One of our projects is N2Africa-to-Borno youth project, which is sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Under this project, we have trained no fewer than 160 youths and each of them received a grant through the foundation.

“The grant is for them to start businesses based on the value chain of groundnut, cowpea, fishery, poultry and value addition.

“I am proud to tell you that each business established by these trained youths now employs a minimum of five people in its host community’’.

Ohanwusi recalled the success story of Yakubu Yoanna, who was retrenched by a bank sometimes ago but was able to get back on his feet through agribusiness.

She said that Yoanna was trained and assisted with some money by the programme, which he used in establishing a peanut factory.

According to the coordinator, Yoanna now supplies peanuts to supermarkets and stores in Kano State.

Ohanwusi stressed that another major success of the programme was the continental recognition it had gained.

“In 2012, when it was established in Nigeria, nobody knew it would become a youth-in-agribusiness model to be adopted by countries in Africa.

“However, seeing the impact and success of this programme, the African Development Bank (AfDB), has adopted the model in the design of its continental wide programme to engage youths in agribusiness.

“The programme, called ENABLE Youth – Empowering Novel Agribusiness Led Employment Programme, is sponsored by the AfDB.

“It will provide for more than eight million agribusiness jobs within five years for youths.

“Through this, over one billion dollar will be used to support agribusiness enterprises and jobs for young women and men.

“The programme targets those, who have embraced agriculture as a business and an income-generating avenue for unemployed young people.

“This is intended to reawaken the hopes and dreams of African youths,” she said.

Ohanwusi disclosed that more than 30 African countries had indicated interest in the programme, saying that it would kick-off in countries as Sudan, Madagascar and Cameroon soon.

“Seeing youths, who used to be marginalised before now establishing their businesses and providing jobs for others is worth it.

“This is because many of them, who have lost hope and who never saw that agriculture could be a goldmine, now have a change in perception and are doing well,” Ohanwusi added.