Going for the prize: young farmers demonstrate their preparedness for the world of agribusiness

2 May 2017

The inaugural African Youth Agripreneur Forum (AYAF) supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB) to demonstrate the success of agribusinesses in job and wealth creation in Africa is about to break a new dawn for innovative young people who are ready to change the way agricultural enterprises are run in Africa.

A young farmer presents his business case before other youth cotesting for the AfDB fund for youth agripreneuship.

The Bank, in partnership with IITA, Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), Africa Agribusiness Incubation Network (AAIN), and Africa 2.0, successfully trained and hosted an AgriPitch Competition in Ibadan on 25-26 April, where over 250 African youth actively involved in agribusiness participated. Twenty of them competed to be among the final three Agripreneurs to be sponsored to India next month to present their business plans before the AfDB Board, and receive grants to roll out their businesses.

The Brazil-Africa Institute in collaboration with IITA and AfDB will also sponsor 30 youth to be trained in Brazil this year.

The contestants presented their plans in the areas of information and communication technology (ICT), production, harvesting and processing, marketing, logistics, research, and financial services.

The best three business pitches selected were those of Mary Joseph, Ababio Kwame, and Mahmud Johnson. All 20 contestants received awards and certificates.

Speaking at the conference, Nteranya Sanginga, IITA Director General, said he was motivated to pioneer the youth-in-agribusiness scheme in Africa—IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA)—because of his firm belief that the African youth have the capacity and so many opportunities to turn around unemployment and poverty. He therefore challenged the young Agripreneurs to take control of their future.

“Take charge of the future. Agriculture is the future for youth employment; it is the future of Africa. IITA will support initiatives to ensure that young people on this continent contribute to the transformation of African agriculture, through agribusiness and its value chain,” he said.

In his keynote address, Chiji Ojukwu, AfDB Director, praised the outputs from IYA. He also assured the young farmers of the Bank’s continuous support for agriculture in Africa.

“IITA is already a renowned center of excellence for breeding new plant varieties for tropical Africa, but now, it is becoming a center for nurturing the next agri-millionaires! The African Development Bank is committed to play its part and has already pledged to increase its annual agriculture lending to at least US$2.4 billion per annum for the next 10 years,” Ojukwu stated.

AYAF serves as a platform for aggregating agripreneurs across Africa, and intensifying the impact of their activities on agriculture and development in the continent. It also aims to link them to business and development organizations, and with markets within and outside Africa as potential off-takers.

“I am my own boss. This training has made me better, I have linked with other active youth in various value chains who will in some way make my business flourish more,” Noel Mulinganya, an IYA, said.

Another participant, Temitope Aroge, a medical doctor-cum-famer, also believes her involvement in agriculture is a motivation to rural farmers.

“I am full of joy working with the rural farmers. They get encouraged seeing me in the field doing the same thing as them. I am a fulfilled farmer,” Aroge said.

AYAF will eventually become a flagship element of the ENABLE Youth Program which highlights the key features and success stories as well as impact of AfDB’s investments across Africa for youth agripreneurship.

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