The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has partnered with MasterCard Foundation to train young Nigerians in the agricultural value chain.
Under the Young Africa Works initiative, the strategy in Nigeria aims to build the capacity of 242,724 youths in agribusiness over the next 5 years, a joint press statement revealed.
The Youth Africa Works initiative pioneered by MasterCard Foundation was designed to enable youths access dignifying work opportunities all over Africa.
In Nigeria, however, the focus is on getting 10 million young Nigerians, majorly women, to access the opportunities particularly in the agricultural sector by 2030.
Country Head at MasterCard Foundation, Chidinma Lawanson said, “Agriculture is at the heart of Africa’s economic transformation. It will profoundly define the future of work. Work is all around us especially in agriculture (production, processing, financing, packaging, and marketing).
“We’re focusing on agriculture in Nigeria because we see these opportunities and we will work with partners like IITA to make them visible to young people”
The project will also focus on upscaling the agri-food systems for young people aged 15 to 35. It will also help them secure employment or become self-employed and will span across Kaduna, Kano, and Lagos states.
One major target of the initiative, according to the press release, is to alleviate the risks associated with young people obtaining loans for their agro ventures. This will be achieved through collaborative efforts with other financial institutions that will ensure that youth-sensitive loans are made available, together with agribusiness support programs.
Training Coordinator for Young Africa Works-IITA, Evelyn Ohanwusi noted that the core target for the project is the female youth population, particularly those in the North. “Our partners are well-positioned to provide the training, placement, and agribusiness support services required in the three target states of Nigeria. “This optimal mix of partners will ensure that the project approaches reflect the special attention that the Young Africa Works strategy places on young women.
“The project will apply special approaches to empower young women in Northern Nigeria while considering cultural sensitivities,” she stated. The release also pointed that pre-existing IITA agribusiness initiatives will be leveraged upon. One of such is the Start Them Early Program (STEP).
The STEP program will improve agricultural instruction in secondary schools, such that the career paths for the students will be directed towards modernised agriculture and agribusiness.