Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tanzania takes first steps towards initiating a Youth Agriprenuers program

IITA Tanzania will soon start own its youth agribusiness program that aims at equipping young, unemployed men and women with agriculture and business skills to encourage them to set up their own agribusiness or increase their employment opportunities in agriculture and research. This is part of the Institute’s effort to tackle the high unemployment rate, one of the main development challenges in Africa, and a general lack of interest in agriculture by young people.

Currently, several students from the University of Sokoine in Tanzania who finished their internship at the Institute but asked to stay on as volunteers have expressed their interest in such a program. The youth also met the IITA DG in December, while he was on an official visit in the country, and he briefed them on the Agriprenuers program in Nigeria. He also assured them that IITA was very keen on establishing such programs across all its hubs in Africa to create employment opportunities for Africa’s youth.

Dr Sanginga (centre) poses for a group photo with the staff and youth
volunteers at IITA Tanzania in Dar es Salaam
“It’s a good start. We are exploring how to establish a youth agriprenuers program in Tanzania under the SARD-SC project and around the cassava value chain modeled along the one in Ibadan,” said Abass Adebayo, IITA value chain specialist under whom the students interned and are now volunteering. They were involved in efforts to develop the cassava value chain in the country.

Adebayo said the Institute was also currently working with a group of youth in Kigoma region, named Big Power Group, who have 30 ha of land and were engaged in growing and processing cassava.

He also noted several leaders in the country had requested for IITA’s support in engaging the youth in agriculture including the Regional commissioners for Coast and Kigoma regions.

“We will work with these leaders in developing programs to involve youth in agriculture where we will train and support them to carry out modern agriculture”.

One of the volunteers is Gaspa Audifas, 25, who graduated from the University of Sokoine in Food Science. He says he is very interested in such a program following the briefing of IITA’s DG on the progress made by the youth in Nigeria.

“There are many opportunities for the youth in agriculture. We just sometimes lack the knowledge and even faith in ourselves. Therefore such a program that will give us the skills to help us to put into good use the knowledge  we gained in school, and not necessarily wait to be employed, will be very important for Tanzania where unemployment is very high” he said. “There are very many unemployed graduates roaming the streets. There is no difference between them and those who are not educated!”


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