|IITA Agripreneurs in their cassava field|
The IITA Youth Agripreneurs are a group of young graduates involved in agribusiness, with the aim of being a unit that would serve as a model to other young people planning to venture into agribusiness and becoming the trainer of trainers. Within one year of their existence, they have established many hectares of maize, cassava, and soybean and also plantain/banana fields. They have also multiplied plantain suckers in the macropropagation chamber. They have managed to bridge the gender inequality gap in the team, with their present number standing at 11 men and 10 women.
The activities of the group cut across the value-chains of different crops including cassava, maize, plantain/banana, and soybean. For cassava, the Youth Agripreneurs are into stem multiplication and root production. For maize and soybean, their focus is on seed multiplication (both certified and foundation seeds), whereas for the plantain/banana, they are into sucker multiplication and fruit production.
The uniqueness of the team lies in the heterogeneity of the disciplines inherent therein, ranging across the Arts, Sciences and Social Sciences. After a meeting with the IFAD President, Dr Kanayo Nwanze, intended to spur youth involvement towards sustainable agriculture, the members of the National Youth Service Corps who were then serving in IITA, Ibadan, under the guidance of the Director-General, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, responded with enthusiasm to the call on 28 August 2012.
The project began with a series of activities, such as attending seminars and training within and outside the
Institute, including a workshop organized by UNIDO in Songhai. Visits to seed companies, most of them in the northern part of Nigeria, were also made. The project has had visitors from various organizations, USAID, UNIDO, FARA, NIPSS, etc., to mention a few.
The Agripreneurs look forward to collaborating with sponsors and investors, as one of their future plans is to expand their production. They wish to become self-independent and self-employed, having acquired the necessary knowledge and skills, and ultimately become employers of labour.