IITA

Agribusiness Incubation: A Young Agropreneur’s Story, Post Incubation

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Johnbosco on the farm

This month we bring you a model youth of the IITA youth Agripreneur who was mentored to see Agriculture as a business. Today he has moved on to make for himself a growing and thriving business in plantain, banana and pineapple sucker production and multiplication among others, he distributes his suckers to various locations across Nigeria while he also helps farm setups both in Nigeria and diaspora with their farm management and setup. He also gives training on the production and business aspect of his mandate crops.

JohnBosco has since realized that picking agriculture as a business is the only work of life that is capable of giving massive percentage return on investment with eye-catching cost benefit ratio and higher curve of income, only if seen as a business. He thanks IITA for taking the lead to walk the talk on Youth in Agribusiness in Africa and encourages the Private and Public sectors and the world to rise up and walk the talk with proactive measures to help Youth see Agriculture as a business.

JohnBosco advices young people who have failed before in their agribusiness not to see it as a setback as every time invested in business has an impact and enables us see ways doing business in a particular way would’nt work.

In this piece he reveals how he started and projects he is currently working on in the value chain and discusses challenges faced as it relates to youth engagement in Nigeria.

Q1. Can you briefly introduce yourself? How was growing up like for you?

Answer: My name is Ezemenaka Johnbosco, preferably called Bosco by fans. I come from Anambra state, born and brought up in Ibadan. I grew up as a normal child with passion for business and development, but with no formal foresight of what sector of business I wanted as a child. Now, I’m the C.E.O of AgroBosco – Agribusiness and Consulting, Founder – International Forum for Youth in Agribusiness ‘IFYA’ (a virtual non-formalized platform), Agribusiness Analyst for Aroms Farms Nigeria Limited and Program Manager for McPennin Nigeria Limited.

Q2. Can you please tell us how you came into farming/agribiz? Do you have a background in Agric? If No, Tell us why you considered agriculture?

Answer: I have an Agricultural background in Soil Science and Land Management, Agricultural Extension and Rural Development. There’s no doubt I had the background from a Federal Agricultural University, still I had no clue of what aspect of life I was going to make that money from, even as at my fourth year as an undergraduate. I eventually graduated and as luck would play its role, I found myself in International Institute of Tropical Agriculture as my place of primary assignment as a Youth Corper serving my nation.

I was mentored and spawned to see Agriculture as a business. From there, I gained momentum with a crystal clear vision and goal to my independence and self-sustainability, so I decided to scramble for professional experience in Agribusiness Development, Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, Public Management and Leadership.

Picking up Agribusiness as my part of life is simply because Agriculture is the ONLY work of life that is capable of giving you massive Percentage Return on Investment with eye-catching Cost Benefit Ratio and higher Curve of Income, only if seen as a business.

John bosco working on the farm

Q3. What aspect or nature of work in Agriculture do you practise? Briefly, Tell us about your work?

Answer: With practical experience in maize seed production, soybean seed production, cassava production / stem multiplication, plantain / banana fruit production and rapid sucker multiplication using macro-propagation technique and pineapple production / rapid sucker multiplication, this has helped me setup my own company. I give trainings on the aforementioned crops, help clients near and in diaspora set up farms and management, help develop Agribusiness companies in line with their business strategies to meet their business goals, help develop business plans, project plans and proposals with groovy and keen attention in Agri-start-ups for Youths.

Q4. What societal problems are you solving with your work and what solutions are you using? What are the hurdles currently being faced?

Johnbosco facilitating Macro-propagation of Hybrid Plantain

Answer: I have been giving trainings on the production and business aspect of my mandate crops to Youths and Farmers for self dependence, sustainability and enhanced income. Since commercial banks hardly finance Youths to start their venture, I’m working on providing Agri-finance with the Co-Founder of International Forum for Youths in Agribusiness – IFYA through ‘crowd-funding’ (micro fund raising through our members on the IFYA virtual platform) to set up Agri start-ups (maximum of $26,000 USD with an approved business plan).

Q5. What do you think about youth participation in Agriculture?

Answer: Youth participation is Agriculture is just the tool-box for significantly increasing food security, reducing world poverty and unemployment to ALARP level. Statistically, Youth make up the highest percentage of world’s population density with significant physiological and morphological capacity capable of deactivating the world time bomb. There’s no two ways about using Youth as a veritable tool.

Q6. What are the challenges of youth engagement in agribusiness as it relates to what you do, How do you think it is affecting Agricultural Entrepreneurship in Nigeria?

Answer: There are numerous challenges faced by Youth engaged in Agribusiness. The primary and number one challenge is ‘change of mindset’, others are secondary. Youths should have their mindset changed about Agriculture, the Private and Public sectors should help Youth see Agriculture as a business. A proactive concept and programs with strong Monitoring and Evaluation should be developed in all continents to tackle this and not just financing start-ups for Youths. Special regards to the IITA’s concept of Youth in Agribusiness, as a model in Africa. I tell you this; if you give a Youth $1 billion for an Agribusiness venture without having his/her mindset changed about seeing Agriculture as a business and the prospects attached to it, then you just poured water into a basket. I know there are so many programs and concepts about changing the mindset of Youths towards seeing Agriculture as a business, but the world has to rise and walk the talk with proactive measures. More regards to IITA for taking the lead to walk the talk on Youth in Agribusiness in Africa.

Johnbosco at the IITA youth Agripreneur incubation plot

In Nigeria, this has greatly affected negatively, considering the teeming Youth population moving into Nigerian labour market quarterly, and then you can figure out how devastating this is in Africa, having Nigeria as the most populous country in Africa. Just figure it out! Example: My friend ‘A’ is comfortable working as a freelancer with a bank and receiving a limited token as salary, while my friend ‘B’ quitted his freelancing ICT job for just a commodity in Agribusiness and now making fortune with unlimited revenue and profit generation.

Q7. What advice do you have for young people engaged in agriculture?

Answer: My advice for young people engaged in Agriculture is to see it as a business. Only then will they realise the fortune that awaits them. In business, every time invested has an impact. Failing is normal in life, but they should NEVER see ‘fail’ as a setback in any of the value-chains of Agribusiness they are into, but rather see ‘fail’ as a finding of ways that don’t work.

Q8. What do you think government should put in place to improve the agric sector in Nigeria? Suggest Advice

Answer: Nigeria government should; 1. Take Youth as a tool-box for development of the Agricultural sector. 2. Work on changing the mind-set of the Youths through Non-Governmental Organizations and private sectors who are walking the talk and proactive, and embracing these organizations with resources needed. 3. Significantly reduce the interest rates on loan and to make it easily accessible to the common Youth. Government should be proactive about the aforementioned using aggressive and diplomatic Monitoring and Evaluation framework base approach.

Here is a Youtube video of Johnbosco talking about Plantain Macropropagation in Nigeria.

Contact him via boscowjay@yahoo.com or Blog

FG releases 2 hybrid yams, 7 other crop varieties

The Federal Government has approved the registration and release of nine hybrid crops varieties developed by scientists for Nigerian farmers to boost agricultural production in the country. Dr Sunday Aladele, Registrar, National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB) made this known in a statement issued on Tuesday and made available to newsmen in Ibadan.

NACGRAB is a parastatal under Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. He said the release of the crops was announced by the chairman, National Varieties Release Committee (NVRC), Chief Awoyemi Oladosu at the 24th NVRC meeting held at NACGRAB. He listed the nine successful varieties as two hybrid white yam (UMUDr/020) and (UMUDr/021), two maize hybrids (SAMMAZ 49) and (SAMMAZ 51), and one maize variety (SAMMAZ 52). Others were two cowpea varieties (FUAMPEA 1 and FUAMPEA 2), one amaranthus or leaf vegetable hybrid (NHAMAR 1) and one okra hybrid (NHOKRA 1). According to him, the yam varieties were developed by National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Ibadan. “The maize varieties were developed by Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria and IITA while the cowpeas were from Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, IAR, and IITA. “The two vegetable varieties, amaranthus and okra were from National Horticultural Research Institute, Ibadan,” he said. The registrar thanked the Minister of Science and Technology for facilitating the funding for the meeting. Aladele also thanked the West Africa Agricultural Programme for the financial support received so far. The Registrar announced that 166 crop varieties from Nigeria had been entered into ECOWAS catalogue. They included 59 maize, 18 sorghum, 14 rice, five pearl millet, 18 cowpea, three groundnut, 24 cassava, 19 yam, three potato and three tomato varieties. Also, Prof. Olusoji Olufajo, chairman Technical Sub Committee (Crops) said the committee had adopted the recommendation of the ad-hoc committee set up by NVRC on funding. He said the committee recommended that anybody submitting publicly bred material should be charged N50,000 and privately bred material should be charged N200,000 application fees for registration per crop variety/hybrid. According to him, 24th NVRC meeting held at NACGRAB was attended by crop scientists, breeders, seed companies and agriculture experts from all over the country.

Originally posted here:http://bit.ly/2ep3zOf

Poor access to improved technologies hinders legume production in Africa

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The productivity of legumes―which are important crops for improving nutrition as a cheap source of protein, increasing farmers’ incomes, and improving soil fertility as they fix nitrogen from the air into the soils―can be easily increased and even doubled with application of improved technologies.

However, farmers are unable to access most of these technologies due to poorly developed supply chains, lack of access to credit, and inadequate policies.

These are the challenges that the second phase of the multi-partnership project, “Putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers,” in short N2Africa, is addressing. The project‘s goal is to boost the production of legumes among smallholder farmers to improve their income and nutrition while at the same time enhancing soil fertility through promoting the use of these improved technologies.

During the first phase of the project, different technologies for boosting legume production were tested together with farmers in eight countries across sub-Saharan Africa and the most promising ones identified. The project also tested technologies for processing and adding value to grain legumes to create markets and increase demand. More than 250,000 farmers were involved in the evaluation and testing of these technologies.

The technologies include improved high-yielding varieties of four legumes: cowpea, groundnut, soybean and common bean, as well as inputs such as appropriate fertilizer mix and inoculants (bacteria that strengthen ability of legumes to fix nitrogen). Research has shown that combined with fertilizers they easily double yield.

The aim of the second phase of the project, which started in March 2014, is to find ways to sustainably disseminate these technologies even further, and to reach twice as many farmers in 11 countries. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the project is led by a consortium comprised of: Wageningen University, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and is implemented through a wide range of partners.

“One of challenges of legume production is lack of well-developed seed systems. Farmers usually do not buy legume seeds, preferring instead to save some from their harvest. Therefore, private seed companies are not motivated to produce legume seeds. This also affects the dissemination of newly released legume varieties from researchers to farmers,” said Professor Ken Giller, the project leader from Wageningen University.

The project, according to Professor Giller, is therefore looking into ways to create effective seed supply systems through private-public sector partnerships. He was speaking at the project’s annual meeting which took place from 28 to 31 October 2014, in Arusha, Tanzania, to review the progress and challenges in the first year and to develop plans for the second year.

Another major challenge is the unavailability of rhizobium inoculants and lack of policy and regulations to control their quality: “While in all the project countries, we were able to demonstrate that using the right inoculants combined with fertilizers can double legume yield, very few of the countries have private or public companies producing and marketing these inoculants in sufficient quantities and quality. Furthermore, the countries also lack polices on quality standards of inoculants and therefore cannot control the quality of products coming into the market,” said Bernard Vanlauwe, IITA Director for Central Africa also speaking at the meeting. “The project is therefore working with governments to establish standards to regulate these products in the market.”

High market demand for legumes
In all the project countries, research showed there was a high demand for legumes, which farmers can tap into to improve their income and livelihoods. For example, in all the project countries, demand for soybean for processing livestock feed and healthy food products far outstripped supply. In Tanzania, according to Dr Freddy Baijukya, IITA-Tanzania agronomist and N2Africa Tanzania Country Coordinator, demand for soybean is estimated at 150,000 tons (t) for soy cake for animal feed and 50,000 t as grain for processing food products such as soy flour.

“Though the country has the potential to produce up to two million t to serve the local and regional market, current production is at 2500 t per year, according to statistics from FAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization),” Dr Baijukya said.

However, to tap into these markets, smallholder farmers need to have the resources to INVEST in these technologies to be able to supply the legumes to these commercial processors consistently and sustainably in terms of quality and quantity. “Even if we come up with wonderful technologies, they will not make a difference if the farmers cannot afford them and have no access to credit as financial institutions consider them a high risk. This is also another area that N2Africa is looking into through private sector partnership,” said Dr Fred Kanampiu, the IITA N2Africa project coordinator.

“We have made a lot of progress in our first year in addressing constraints to production of legumes in the 11 countries we are working in. The Phase I countries such as DR Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe are now focusing on commercialization of these technologies and institutionalization of the project. The new project countries such as Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda are pre-testing the identified promising technologies to identify the most effective and appropriate one. There has been a lot of sharing of information and lessons learned across all the countries and the over a 164 project partners,” Dr Kanampiu added.

 

Picture credit : By ellen jo roberts

Originally published here

Nigeria releases more cassava with higher pro-vitamin A to fight micronutrient deficiency

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Hernan Ceballos (left) CIAT Plant breeder with IITA Cassava breeders Peter Kulakow (middle) and Elizabeth Parkes (right), harvesting the new cassava varieties in Ibadan

Three newly improved vitamin A cassava varieties with yellow roots have been released by the Nigerian government, stepping up efforts to tackle the problem of vitamin A deficiency especially among women and children in the country. These new varieties were developed jointly by IITA and the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) Umudike.

The three varieties—UMUCASS 44, UMUCASS 45, and UMUCASS 46—are the second in the series of pro-vitamin A varieties released in the country, and are commonly known as NR07/0220, IITA-TMS-IBA070593, and IITA-TMS-IBA070539.

The new varieties have a pro-vitamin A content that averages 10 parts per million (ppm) based on fresh roots as compared to the first series (UMUCASS 36, UMUCASS 37, and UMUCASS 38 commonly known as IITA-TMS-IBA011368, IITA-TMS-IBA1371 and IITA-TMS-IBA011412) that were released three years ago with a pro-vitamin A content of between 6-8 ppm.

Dr Peter Kulakow, IITA Cassava Breeder, said that the development of the varieties demonstrates strong collaboration between scientists at NRCRI and IITA which benefits Nigerian farmers and especially women and children who suffer from vitamin A deficiency.
Afflicting almost 20% of pregnant women and about 30% of children under the age of five, vitamin A deficiency results in stunting in children, predisposes them to sicknesses such as diarrhea and measles, and even premature death. In pregnant women, vitamin A deficiency results in night blindness and increases the risk of mortality.

Measures to address this deficiency include dietary diversity, fortification, supplementation, and now biofortification.
In 2011, researchers from IITA and NRCRI with funds from HarvestPlus developed the first series of biofortified pro-vitamin A cassava varieties to help reduce the incidence of vitamin A deficiency especially in the rural communities.

Dr Chiedozie Egesi, NRCRI Cassava Breeder, said this newer set of pro-vitamin A cassava varieties will play a role in attaining the goals of the Cassava Transformation Agenda of the Federal Government of Nigeria and help improve cassava food products such as gari, fufu, high quality cassava flour, cassava bread, and starch.

“This new set of pro-vitamin A cassava varieties have increased beta-carotene levels as well as matching agronomic characteristics as an incentive for better farmer adoption,” he added.

Prior to their release, participatory varietal trials involving farmers were conducted across 10 states in Nigeria, the world’s top cassava producer, cutting across the different agroecological zones.

The varieties have potential yields of 32–36 tons per hectare; they branch either moderately or profusely and possess yellow roots.
Farmers’ love for the varieties is helping to increase the acceptance of “yellow cassava,” Dr Egesi added.

The next steps to rapidly disseminate the varieties include the rapid production of breeders’ and foundation seed stock so that commercial farmers will have access to these new varieties.

The development of these newer set of provitamin A varieties demonstrates that plant breeders are not resting. Dr Hernan Ceballos, cassava breeder from CIAT in Colombia has developed biofortified germplasm that IITA breeders are actively using in crosses to select for even higher beta carotene germplasm.

The research was funded by HarvestPlus. Other partners include the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), and various Nigerian government agencies.

For more information, please contact: Peter Kulakow, p.kulakow@cgiar.org; Chiedozie Egesi, cegesi@yahoo.com; Godwin Atser, g.atser@cgiar.org or Adaobi Umeokoro, a.umeokoro@cgiar.org

IITA DG Commended For Revamping Weed Science Research

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Rising from a two-day meeting at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture Ibadan, researchers have commended the Director General of IITA, Dr Nteranya Sanginga for rejuvenating the weeds science program. They also called for more concerted efforts to tackle the menace of weeds in Africa.

The researchers, who are members of the Steering Committee of the IITA Cassava Weed Management project, were unanimous during their inception meeting that unless the problem of weed infestation on farmers’ field is addressed, Africa will not maximize the gains of crop improvement.

The meeting, which was held 18- 19 August 2014, gave kudos to IITA for its new research agenda of investing in weed science and bringing weed science—a very important but often neglected component of agronomy— to the front burner, and for supporting partners in tackling the problem.

“We thank IITA for the equipment given to us under the Cassava Weed Management Project to help find solutions to the problems of weeds,” said Dr J.C. Okonkwo, Executive Director, National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike, who was also unanimously elected as the Chair of the Steering Committee.

Under the new research focus, IITA committed to revive its weed management research; rehabilitated an office building, procured equipment, and hired staff. The building was commissioned during the Steering Committee meeting by Deputy Director General (Partnerships & Capacity Development), Dr Kenton Dashiell, who dedicated it to resource-poor farmers, especially women and children.

Prof John Adisa Ayoade, Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Agriculture Makurdi (UAM) commended IITA for investing in weed science and called on other institutions to emulate.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor who represented the Vice Chancellor of UAM specifically urged the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project to include graduate students to develop the critical human capital that would take research on weed science forward considering the fact that current weed scientists in Africa were aging.

Commending IITA for its renewed attention to weed science, Project Leader, Cassava Weed Management, Dr Alfred Dixon reiterated the project’s goal of increasing cassava productivity for at least 125,000 Nigerian farm families through the provision of labor-saving solutions for cassava weeding which is usually done by women and children.

He said IITA and its partners would work to develop state-of the art weed management practices, by combining improved cassava varieties with proper planting dates, plant populations and plant nutrition options.  According to him, the project is also focusing on intercropping and tillage research, as well as testing 21 different pre-emergence and 19 post-emergence herbicides at different application rates to discover the best combinations for sustainable weed control in cassava. Dr Dixon explained that integrated weed management practices, including the use of herbicides that meet globally accepted conventions and safety thresholds appropriate for smallholders would be crucial in making weed control in cassava more efficient and effective.

The Project Leader decried farmers’ continuous use of obsolete herbicides despite their adverse effects on the environment and health. He said the project intended to change the situation by offering farmers evidence-based information that would help them make better choices.

The project’s progress report presented by the Principal Investigator of the Project, Professor Friday Ekeleme excited members of the Steering Committee. Consequently, they suggested new areas the project could explore for better performance and also developed a monitoring and evaluation guide for the project.

The Steering Committee comprise experts from the three collaborating institutions— the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike; University of Agriculture Makurdi; and Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta. Other members include international cassava scientists, and representatives of the donor community, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nigeria, and the private sector.

The committee also visited the IITA Business Incubation Platform and made field trips to experimental plots on cassava weed management control at IITA Campus and Moniya in Ibadan, Oyo State and Ile-ogbo in Osun state.

Nigerian Engineers Join Forces With IITA To Halt Devastation By Weeds

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Efforts to control weeds in cassava farms received a boost with Nigerian engineers joining forces with experts from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to seek sustainable solutions to tackle the menace.

The team of engineers drawn from members of the academia, IITA, public and private sectors are exploring mechanical weeding options used elsewhere in the world with the hope of adapting them to African cropping systems.

The team intends to build on present motorized weeding equipment already available in the market by studying their limitations in the African farming context, understanding those limitations and modifying the equipment for maximum efficiency.

At a meeting in Ibadan to kick off the collaboration on 13 August, Project Leader for the Cassava Weed Management Project, Dr Alfred Dixon described the partnership as key milestone that would redefine mechanical control of weeds in crops such as cassava in Nigeria in particular, and Africa in general.

“For us to maximize yield in Africa, we need to mechanize weeding. And the challenge before us is to innovate options that will take off drudgery from farmers, and make the farms weed-free so that the crops will grow and express their full potential,” Dr Dixon said.

Accounting for between 50 and 80% of the total labor budget of cassava growers, weeds are major disincentives to African farmers. And with traditional agriculture still predominant, women and children bear more the brunt of weeding investing between 200 and 500 hours annually in clearing weeds on a hectare of cassava to prevent economic root losses in Nigeria. The drudgery involved in weeding places a hard-to-bear yolk on women, compromises productivity, and more importantly, put to jeopardy the education of children of ages 5-14 years as most are forced out of school to assist their parents.

Dr Dixon said unless solutions to weeds are made available, African farmers will not increase their farm sizes and enjoy the gains of agricultural growth. “They can plant only what they can weed,” he added.

Prof  Olawale John Olukunle, Head, Department of Agricultural Engineering, Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), commended the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project for welcoming the proposal to jointly work with the Nigerian experts; and praised the Institute’s efforts towards addressing the problem of weeds in cassava and other African crops.

Launched early this year, the Cassava Weed Management Project is confronting the problem of weeds on several fronts including the use of best-bet agronomic practices by combining improved cassava varieties with proper planting dates, plant populations, plant nutrition options and also focusing on intercropping and tillage research. The integrated weed management approach of the project also includes the use of herbicides that meet globally accepted conventions and safety thresholds appropriate for smallholder farmers.

The project intends to widely share knowledge to farmers on cassava weed control so they can make informed and better choices in controlling weeds on their farms using labor-saving options. 

IITA Youth Agripreneurs to train young people from Borno State

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IITA Youth Agripreneurs in their banana-plantain multiplication chamber in IITA

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture Youth Agripreneurs (IITA Youth Agripreneurs) have concluded plans to train and empower youths from Borno state—north-eastern Nigeria.
The proposed three-week training, which comes up in early September, will equip youths in that state with knowledge on modern agricultural practices and entrepreneurial skills that will make them self dependent and be able to create wealth.

“What we intend to do is actually use agriculture to solve some of the social problems in most societies of Africa including poverty and hunger,” Dr Nteranya Sanginga, IITA Director General said t.

The proposed training will draw from the experiences and successes of the IITA Youth Agripreneur model, and will be conducted by youths that have been trained and empowered by IITA.

“Over the last few years we have seen that it is more effective for youths to train youths. And we want to use this approach to bring more youths to agriculture, take them off the job market, and reinstate stability in our communities,” Dr Sanginga added.

Established over two years ago, the IITA Youth Agripreneur program uses teaching, mentoring and practical demonstrations of modern agriculture to attract youths into agribusiness. The primary goals are to attract to the sector the necessary young and vibrant human capital by making farming profitable, thereby creating wealth and the most needed jobs in the society.

“By engaging Borno youths in agriculture, we envision to solve the problem of youth restiveness in that state, and make the state one of the major food exporters in the country,” Dr Alfred Dixon, Project Leader for the IITA-managed project on Sustainable Weed Management Technologies for Cassava Systems in Nigeria said.

Under the training which has strong financial support from “N2Africa–to-Borno” project, 16
youths from Borno state will be trained for three weeks for a start. The training will involve class room lectures, on-field practical training, and interactive sessions and group exercises.

Ms Evelyn Ohanwusi, IITA Youth Agripreneur said, “We are happy to meet our peers in Borno state. We will be sharing knowledge with them so that they can better their lives.”

Located in the northeastern part of Nigeria, Borno is perhaps the largest state in Nigeria in terms of land mass with about 69,435 square Km.  The state is agrarian and it occupies the greatest part of the Chad Basin and shares borders with the Republics of Niger to the North, Chad to the North-East and Cameroun to the East. In recent times, the state has recorded series of insurgency triggered partly by growing unemployment and poverty.

Researchers are hopeful that empowering the youths through agriculture will compliment Nigeria’s government efforts, create wealth in communities, and will lead to greater stability of the state and region. 

Young #farmers rate weeds as most challenging constraint to #cassava farming

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In an interactive discussion aimed at unraveling bottlenecks to farming, young farmers identified devastations by weeds as the most challenging constraint demoralizing cassava farming and hurting yields.

“Our experience is that even before you complete the first course of weeding, you see another set of grasses coming behind,” Akinyele Bankole, a youth agripreneur with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, said during a meeting with members of the Cassava Weed Management team at IITA.

“We have weeded about five times but it appears we are not doing anything when you see the weeds in the fields. This is the most difficult challenge we are facing,” he said.

“And sometimes it looks discouraging seeing our fields with weeds competing with cassava,” Evelyn Ohanwunsi, another youth agripreneur added..

Generally, farmers weed cassava three times, but in cassava farms where perennial weeds such as spear grass are predominant, more weeding may be required.

Researchers estimate that weeding takes 50 to 80% of the total labor budget, and up to 200-500 hours of labour of mostly women and children per ha are required to prevent economic cassava root losses in Nigeria.

Dr Alfred Dixon, Project Leader for the project Sustainable Weed Management Technologies for Cassava Systems in Nigeria said solutions on weed control in cassava farms were underway following efforts between IITA and partners to combat weeds in cassava.

Under the cassava weed management project, Dr Dixon and his team are conducting research that will develop new best bet innovative weed management practices, combining improved varieties, proper planting dates, plant populations, and plant nutrition, all coupled to intercropping and tillage options, through well-focused trials in the three agro-ecologies where cassava dominates in Nigeria. The project is also testing herbicides for efficacy and economic merit to help make weed control in cassava more efficient and effective.

Dr Dixon said results from the 5-year cassava weed research would be shared with the IITA young agripreneurs and other farmers to enable them to make informed decisions that would not only increase the productivity of cassava but also make cassava farming more attractive and put money in their pockets.

“I am sure with the cassava weed project, we will be able to tackle the menace of weeds… so be rest assured… we will support you,” he said.

Established two plus years ago under the leadership of Dr Nteranya Sanginga, IITA Director General; the IITA Youth Agripreneur program is an Africa-wide initiative that is attracting youths back to agriculture by exposing the youth to the numerous opportunities that exist in the agricultural sector.

Last year, the IITA youth agripreneurs in Nigeria cultivated more than 50 hectares of cassava, maize and soybean. The group intends to more than double the hectarage this year as weather conditions look positive.

Dr Dixon was accompanied by Dr Gbassey Tarawali, Representative of the IITA DG and Deputy Director General (Partnerships & Capacity Development); and Godwin Atser, Communication & Knowledge Exchange Expert.  IITA DG Sanginga also dropped by and partook in the focus group discussion.

Nigeria: FG Commits N77m to IITA Youth Agripreneur Programme

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Efforts to tackle unemployment among the youths through agriculture has received a boost as the federal government is supporting the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Youth Agripreneur programme with $500,000(N77million). The funds will go into training and capacity building for youths and will create the next generation of young farmers in the country.


The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, disclosed the financial commitment recently at a workshop on “Engagement of Youth Entrepreneurship for Agricultural Transformation in Africa” held in Ibadan recently.
Initiated two years ago, the IITA Youth Agripreneur programme builds the capacity of youths and exposes them to the numerous untapped opportunities in agriculture and, more importantly, changes the negative perception that young men and women hold about agriculture. The programme has already engaged some Nigerian youths from different backgrounds.

Adesina commended IITA for developing the programme, and the milestones recorded by the youths so far in cultivation and dissemination of improved planting materials. He noted that the programme was in line with the Nigerian government’s transformation agenda which is also creating job opportunities for youths.
IITA Director General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, on his part, hailed the for supporting the initiative and described youths unemployment in Africa as “a time bomb” if authorities failed to act quickly to harness their potential.

Like many other countries, Nigeria is facing serious unemployment challenges as a result of the increase in population, and the growing number of students/ candidates into tertiary institutions over the years that results in more graduates than available jobs. The state of affairs is a serious challenge for every successive government that has ruled the nation since 1990 with unemployment rising to 24 per cent in 2011.
Nigeria’s government alone cannot provide the needed jobs. However, agriculture is seen as a key sector that could help absorb the increasing number of youths in the labour market.

Researchers say to get the youths involved in agriculture, agriculture itself must be attractive. Director of Soil Health Programme with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Dr Bashir Jama, said to make agriculture attractive would involve narrowing yield gaps and adoption of improved technologies to increase agricultural productivity.
“Equally important is the need to diversify production systems that minimise risks and generates attractive incomes, enhancement and integration of livestock and nutrients recycling, and reduction of postharvest losses,” he said.


The Engagement of Youth Entrepreneurship for Agricultural Transformation in Africa workshop which was organised by IITA was supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB) under the Support for Agricultural Research and Development of Strategic Crops (SARD-SC) project, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and AGRA.

Efforts to tackle unemployment among the youths through agriculture has received a boost as the federal government is supporting the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Youth Agripreneur programme with $500,000(N77million). The funds will go into training and capacity building for youths and will create the next generation of young farmers in the country.


The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, disclosed the financial commitment recently at a workshop on “Engagement of Youth Entrepreneurship for Agricultural Transformation in Africa” held in Ibadan recently.
Initiated two years ago, the IITA Youth Agripreneur programme builds the capacity of youths and exposes them to the numerous untapped opportunities in agriculture and, more importantly, changes the negative perception that young men and women hold about agriculture. The programme has already engaged some Nigerian youths from different backgrounds.

Adesina commended IITA for developing the programme, and the milestones recorded by the youths so far in cultivation and dissemination of improved planting materials. He noted that the programme was in line with the Nigerian government’s transformation agenda which is also creating job opportunities for youths.
IITA Director General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, on his part, hailed the for supporting the initiative and described youths unemployment in Africa as “a time bomb” if authorities failed to act quickly to harness their potential.

Like many other countries, Nigeria is facing serious unemployment challenges as a result of the increase in population, and the growing number of students/ candidates into tertiary institutions over the years that results in more graduates than available jobs. The state of affairs is a serious challenge for every successive government that has ruled the nation since 1990 with unemployment rising to 24 per cent in 2011.
Nigeria’s government alone cannot provide the needed jobs. However, agriculture is seen as a key sector that could help absorb the increasing number of youths in the labour market.

Researchers say to get the youths involved in agriculture, agriculture itself must be attractive. Director of Soil Health Programme with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Dr Bashir Jama, said to make agriculture attractive would involve narrowing yield gaps and adoption of improved technologies to increase agricultural productivity.
“Equally important is the need to diversify production systems that minimise risks and generates attractive incomes, enhancement and integration of livestock and nutrients recycling, and reduction of postharvest losses,” he said.


The Engagement of Youth Entrepreneurship for Agricultural Transformation in Africa workshop which was organised by IITA was supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB) under the Support for Agricultural Research and Development of Strategic Crops (SARD-SC) project, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and AGRA.

“Youth Agribusiness Development Initiative”:a Private-Public partnership to Advance Youth employment in Agriculture and Agribusiness in Africa

YADI CONFERENCE1

By Kalu Samuel

“Despite the incentives and the expanding markets for primary and secondary agricultural commodities, the involvement of the youth in agricultural activities has steadily declined in recent years (Adekunle et al. 2009)”

It is in this vein that several stakeholders in the Agricultural sector: Agriculture ministers, High-level officials of 20 African countries/governments, Representatives of regional institutions such as the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and sub-regional research organizations (ASARECA,CORAF, and CCARDESSA), Collaborating partners from CGIAR and other international research institutions such as AfricaRice, ICARDA, IFPRI, ICIPE, and ILRI, Representatives of private enterprises, Nongovernmental organizations, Youth agricultural entrepreneurs will all be present at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)’s initiative on youth in agribusiness, entitled: Engagement of Youth Entrepreneurship for Agricultural Transformation in Africa at IITA, Ibadan, Nigeria from 28 – 30 May 2014.

This will lead to the development of an African wide program on “Youth Agribusiness Development Initiative”:a Private-Public partnership to Advance Youth employment in Agriculture and Agribusiness in Africa, which has the main Objective to:
1. Brainstorm and encourage innovative thinking on how to directly engage the youth in more diverse and productive roles in agriculture
2. Identify strategies for the empowerment of rural youth in agriculture based on tailored pathways that offer opportunities in agribusiness,local service provision, and market-oriented agriculture
3. Develop the Pan-African Youth in Agribusiness program

Key strategic interventions to realize the workshop’s recommendations include:
1. Establishing the Africa Youth Agribusiness Development Initiative (YADI) that advances training in vocational agriculture to demonstrate and promote opportunities for youth.
2. Back stopping (through intensive and modular training programs) rural enterprise development with quality science and action research to develop products and technologies that attract the youth.
3. Building a network of well-educated and motivated young entrepreneurs around rural agribusiness service clusters (hubs)that attract private sector investors for long-term sustainable development.
4. Mobilizing the energies of skilled youth as service providers to the larger farming community.

Since the event is targeted at the Youth, it is expected that:
• Engaging youth in entrepreneurship for agricultural transformation in Africa can succeed by bringing resources to bear on a consistent strategy for the long haul supported by regional policy advocacy and policy leadership spearheaded by IFAD and AfDB agriculture and education sectors.
• The program will aim to increase the income of 1.0 million youth by at least an additional US$450 every year as a result of training in agribusiness that allows a doubling of production,processing, and marketing of major stable crops that include cassava, banana, soybean and horticulture, and livestock(poultry and fish) over a period of five years in selected impact-zones across the continent.

We will indeed like to hear from you during the conference period (28th – 30th May, 2014) and beyond. Tweet your questions, suggestions and comments on Youth involvement in Agriculture and Agribusiness (YADI) using the Official hashtag: #YADI14

You can also share your view on the workshop discussion forum by registering here – http://yadi2014.discussioncommunity.com/