Dutch Government and IITA Launch Ambitious Initiative to Train 10,000 Nigerian Youths in Agribusiness
Abuja, Nigeria – In a collaborative effort between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), an unprecedented initiative has been unveiled to empower 10,000 Nigerian youths with essential skills in agribusiness. This transformative project, known as the Youth in Agribusiness (YAS), aims to harness innovative technologies for sustainable food production while addressing pressing challenges such as unemployment and food security.
The official launch took place on Monday in Abuja, where the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mr Geoffrey van Leeuwen, addressed the beneficiaries. In his statement, Mr Leeuwen emphasized the pivotal role of Nigerian youth in the future of agriculture and expressed the Netherlands’ commitment to collaborating with key institutions in Nigeria.
Accompanied by the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Nigeria, Mr Wouter Plomp, the officials visited the Golden Finger Farms and Ranches, the agri-hub for YAS in Abuja. During the visit, a new training hall dedicated to the project was inaugurated, marking a significant step towards providing comprehensive training to the aspiring agribusiness entrepreneurs.
Strategic Collaboration for Sustainable Agriculture
The strategic partnership between the Dutch government and IITA underscores their shared commitment to promoting sustainable agriculture, job creation, and wealth in Nigeria. Mr Leeuwen highlighted the importance of youth involvement in agriculture, recognizing them as the driving force for the future of the nation’s agricultural landscape.
The YAS project, led by IITA, specifically targets youths aged between 18 and 35, a demographic crucial for addressing the rising unemployment rates and fostering food security. The project not only aims to equip participants with essential agribusiness skills but also focuses on leveraging innovative technologies to enhance productivity and sustainability.
Scale and Impact of the YAS Initiative
Ms Aline Mugisho, the Team Lead for YAS, provided insights into the scale and impact of the initiative. “In YAS alone, we are training 10,000 youths with expected indirect beneficiaries of 40,000,” she stated. The ambitious goal goes beyond skill development; the project is committed to nurturing each business created to generate at least four additional jobs.
Recognizing the interconnectedness of economic stability and food security, Ms Mugisho emphasized the importance of accelerating businesses, linking them to direct market systems, and facilitating connections with financial institutions. This multi-faceted approach aims to create a robust ecosystem that supports the growth and sustainability of agribusiness ventures initiated by the youth.
Collaborative Partnerships and Support System
Golden Finger Farms and Ranches, serving as the agri-hub for YAS in Abuja, plays a pivotal role in providing practical training and mentorship to the beneficiaries. Collaborative efforts with partners like Bopinc further enrich the training programs, ensuring a holistic approach that addresses various aspects of agribusiness development.
The project’s emphasis on collaboration extends beyond training; it includes establishing networks with market systems, financial institutions, and other stakeholders essential for the success of the aspiring agribusiness entrepreneurs.
Addressing Challenges and Fostering Food Security
Nigeria faces a critical juncture marked by rising unemployment and the need for enhanced food security. The YAS initiative is positioned as a strategic response to these challenges, aiming to not only equip the youth with skills but also create a ripple effect of job opportunities and economic stability.
Ms Mugisho highlighted the role of individual income in achieving food security, stating, “You cannot have food security unless you have a good income for individuals, and this individual’s income eventually creates the precedence for us to have a food-secure youth.”
A Path Towards Economic Vibrancy
The collaboration between the Dutch government and IITA represents a significant step towards addressing socio-economic challenges in Nigeria. By investing in the training and empowerment of the youth in agribusiness, this initiative sets the stage for a more food-secure and economically vibrant nation.
As the YAS initiative unfolds, it is poised to contribute not only to the individual prosperity of the participants but also to the broader goals of sustainable agriculture, job creation, and economic growth.