To encourage youths to embrace agriculture as a business, the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and AfricaRice have entered into a three-year partnership with the Afe Babalola University (ABUAD), Ado Ekiti to empower 1,000 youths.
The partnership, which will see the youths trained in agriculture techniques and make them entrepreneurs will commence by end of the month. Provost, College of Science, ABUAD, who is also the acting Provost, College of Agriculture, Professor Abiodun Ojo said the youths would be trained on aspects of agriculture, as trainees would determine their areas of specialisation.
The youths, to be selected from Ekiti and Oyo States to pioneer the scheme will be exposed to mechanised farming and marketing of products. Prof Ojo said: “Some would be trained on how to produce fingerlings and sell or raise them to table size, some will go for rice cultivation, de-stoning and processing of rice. Some can go into the area of cassava, maize or mango and how to use it to make chips or Moringa and various products that can be produced from it.
“The unique thing about this training is that we shall feed the trainees and accommodate them throughout the period of training and give them seedlings or seed money to commence their own business after training. We shall also mentor and monitor them to make sure they succeed and train other people.
Speaking at a workshop to unveil the partnership, IFAD Technical Specialist, Dr. Malu Muia Ndavi said the agencies are partnering the institution because of their deep concerns for job creation in Nigeria and Africa. Peeved about the high level of unemployment in Nigeria, Ndavi charged universities in Africa to rejig their curricula to meet the 21st challenges and bring out ingenuity in their graduates.
He said: “We shall listen to the modalities set up by ABUAD to train 1,000 youths within three months in modern farming. We are going to ensure that every commitment we make shall be delivered and this will mark the beginning of a long standing partnership with this university”.
Founder of the university, Aare Afe Babalola (SAN) decried the level at which Nigerian youths depend on white-collar job that is no longer available.He said: “When the white men introduced civil service, the civil servants then lived like gods, they were trained wrongly. They never emphasised that farming was a good profession. “But somebody must correct this wrong impression and IFAD and ABUAD must be ready to do this. We must research and bring new innovations to agriculture and modernise farming.”