The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, and Mastercard Foundation has engaged the organized private sector to create profitable partnerships with youth-led agribusinesses to transform and revolutionize the agricultural industry to unlock opportunities therein.
The Deputy Director-General, Corporate Services, IITA, Hilde Koper, at ‘The Agribusiness Investment Forum” organized by Innovative Youth in Agriculture (I-Youth) urged the private sector to support youths in Agribusiness by offering loans or microcredit to scale their businesses.
She stressed that successful youth-led agribusinesses are also a viable employment opportunity for Nigerian Youth.
Koper explained that though the institute has done a lot in scaling technologies and innovations while providing the much-needed capacity, the knowledge, and skills required to attract youth participation in agriculture, there was a need for support from investors to help retain their interest in the sector.
Country Head, Mastercard Foundation-Nigeria, Chidinma Lawanson, stated that the Foundation aims to leverage the youth population in Africa to deliver on the target of providing seven million dignified and fulfilling jobs in the agricultural sector, noting that IITA is a strategic partner in the realization of this overall objective.
“We remain committed to working with IITA to train the youth to have linkages to financial services and work opportunities. Also, create that access to market to ensure that there are no goods lost by evaluating the entire value chain from production to micro processing, warehousing, among others, and IITA has been a strong partner in achieving this,” she said.
While admitting that youth tend to be more attracted to the creative industries than agriculture, she said the narrative seems to be changing for the Agric sector in recent times, particularly with the introduction of technologies and innovation by strategic partners.
Executive Manager, I-Youth Project, Aline Mugisho, stated that the institute has assisted in providing the capacity for the youth to become innovation and technology catalysts but lacks the necessary support to bring their ideas to life.
“Agribusiness can have its risk, which includes poor soil and diseases. But at the I-Youth project, we are bringing innovations and technologies and skilled youth into the market, which helps mitigate the risks. We have been investing in the business of young agripreneurs and would require viable partnerships with the private sector to transform the agricultural sector. There are challenges in the Agric sector, but with the right expertise, good research and soil analysis, climate-smart agriculture technologies and mechanization, Nigeria can become the food basket of Africa. We need the private sector to start exploring investment and business opportunities in Agriculture to grow the sector,” Mugisho said.
Director, Agribusiness, Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture, Aramide Ganzallo, who represented the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mrs Abisola Olusanya, expressed profound appreciation to IITA and Mastercard Foundation for their commitment to making agriculture attractive to the youth. Ganzallo noted that the Lagos State government would continue to do its best to prioritize the youth by harnessing their potential for the growth of the agricultural sector in Nigeria.