IITA Youth Agripreneurs program wins international award for youth empowerment innovations
1 July 2019
In recognition of its commitment to improving both agribusiness opportunities and creditworthiness of youth across Africa, the IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) program has been awarded the 2019 International Innovation Award for Sustainable Food and Agriculture.
The award, the first of its kind, is funded by the Government of Switzerland and was presented, in conjunction with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), during the 41st FAO Conference at their headquarters in Rome. High-level government representatives across the globe attended the official event which was held on 26 June.
Awards were handed out in two categories with the first category recognizing excellence in digitization and innovation for sustainable food systems. The second category, in which IYA emerged successful, recognizes the importance of innovations that empower youth to participate in securing the future through sustainable food and agricultural systems.
These innovations are particularly significant in the face of increased environmental challenges, in line with the recently launched United Nations Decade of Family Farming and the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
Receiving the award on behalf of IYA, Evelyn Ohanwusi, Head of the program, appreciated the organizers and sponsors of the award saying, “IYA is grateful to have been recognized as an innovation that empowers youth in agriculture and food systems and chosen among other qualified nominees. We sincerely appreciate the Government of Switzerland and the FAO for contributing to our success story.”
Speaking further, she dedicated the award to young people involved in agricultural transformation, encouraging them to keep working hard towards resolving the problems of food insecurity and unemployment in Africa. “This award is dedicated to all youth in the agriculture and food systems across the world especially in Africa. We have started the revolution and yes, we can achieve more!” she added.
In 2012, IITA Director General Nteranya Sanginga established the IYA youth in agribusiness initiative to address the issue of widespread youthunemployment and to provide a platform that propels youth towards self-employment in agriculture. The program started in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria and has expanded into 13 groups with over 385 members operating 36 learning-by-doing enterprises in 10 African countries: Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia.