Back to the future: Africa’s agriculture offers its youth perspectives

23 April 2018

Bonn, April 26, 2018. Agriculture can become the key to success in Africa. This is one of the core messages conveyed by German and international experts on Africa and development, who met in Bonn on 26 April on the occasion of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture’s (IITA) board meeting, hosted by the Center for Development Research at Bonn University (ZEF).

Agriculture is a major source of livelihood for the majority of the population in almost all African countries and, as a supplier of healthy, locally grown food, a key factor in reducing hunger and malnutrition. “Beyond that, it can also become a real job engine in combination with technological development and innovation”, says German Africa expert and director at ZEF, Prof. Christian Borgemeister, who is also a member of IITA’s board.

Focusing on agricultural development is not new, but it is currently receiving a new, up-to-date momentum in the political debate in Germany on how to tackle the causes of flight and migration out of Africa. After all, agriculture offers in particular young people a perspective for developing their careers.

An example of success is the work of IITA. Since its inception 50 years ago, the award-winning institute has trained and educated over 140,000 people in Africa in and for the agricultural sector. “Africa needs a new generation of farmers to produce Africa’s food in the future, as Africa will have to reduce its high net food imports and make better use of its 60 percent share of the world’s arable land area”, says Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, Director General of IITA.

IITA has therefore launched a special program, “Youth Agripreneur”, which has been supporting young Africans since 2012 – with success. “More than 2,000 young people have benefited from this program so far and many of them are successful agricultural entrepreneurs by now,” says IITA Director General Sanginga, who initiated the program. “We need to mobilize this dynamic,
vibrant, resilient, and active sector of our population, give them support to succeed in agribusiness and innovative agricultural enterprises through training, incubation, and start-ups, and ensure Africa’s, if not the world’s food supplies in the future,” Sanginga reiterated.

One of the successful young entrepreneurs and graduates of the IITA Youth Agripreneur program is Ibukun Agbotoba. Together with other graduates, she founded and established Top Notch Poultry, a high-quality broiler company. But the young entrepreneur has further plans: “We want to grow the business this year to 1,000 chickens per week, and seek further investment to train other youth and establish a revolving fund to establish their own franchises,” explains Ibukun Agbotoba, youth agripreneur and co-owner.” states young entrepreneur Agbotoba at the meeting in Bonn.

Another agricultural entrepreneur is Zaccheus Izuwa. He completed the IITA program and then founded his own company, Sorgi Enterprises. His company produces sorghum, a cereal that is an important staple food in Nigeria. Among his numerous clients are Honeywell Flour Mills and Guinness Nigeria Ltd. A success he wants to share: “I want to employ other youths and also contribute in the fight against hunger and malnutrition in Nigeria through this business.”

Background information: IITA is the largest international agricultural research institute in tropical Africa. It is supported by, among others, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) in Germany. Since it was founded in 1967, more than 140,000 people have been successfully trained and educated in Africa. The “Youth Agripreneur” program is, among others, supported by the African Development Bank and has already trained and educated more than 2,000 young agricultural entrepreneurs since its inception almost six years ago.

Contact and information for Germany-based media:
Alma van der Veen
Press and Public Relations, Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn,
Phone 00 49 228 731846 or 736124, email presse.zef@uni-bonn.de, www.zef.de

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