The International Institute of Topical Agriculture (IITA), is partnering with the Mastercard Foundation in Nigeria, to train 242,724 youths on fulfilling work opportunities in the agrifood value chain. Evelyn Ohanwusi, Training Coordinator, Young Africa Works-IITA, said this in statement on Wednesday in Abuja.
The training, to be conducted through IITA’s Youth in Agribusiness office, will focus on building innovative skills and inclusive agrifood systems for young people between the ages 15 and 35, in the next five years.
Ohanwusi said the project will adopt special approaches to empower young women in Northern Nigeria while considering cultural sensitivities, and as also support the youths to secure employment or be self-employ through entrepreneurship in Kaduna, Kano and Lagos states in the next five years.
“The project will leverage and scale existing IITA youth initiatives, including the Start Them Early Programme (STEP). STEP is a mechanism that improves agricultural instruction in secondary schools in a manner that better directs career paths toward modern agriculture and agribusiness. Partnerships with the commissioners for education in each of the focus states will lead to a massive out-scaling of the STEP programme.”
She said that in collaboration with the Enterprise Development Centre’s online learning platform, the digital STEP programme, delivered through Young Africa Works, was expected to revolutionize agriculture teaching in public schools across Nigeria.
“The programme will also scale access to vocational education for marginalized young people. The project will be implemented with several partners and the state governments. Youth-sensitive loan and agribusiness support programmes will be developed with financial institutions that recognize the specialized needs of young people, especially women, as agricultural borrowers.”
Ohanwusi, however, said that the programme would aim to reduce the risks associated with young people obtaining credit for agricultural investment purposes. “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 would ensure that the project approaches reflect the special attention that the Young Africa Works strategy places on young women. The partnership aims to enable Young Africa Works, developed in consultation with young people, policymakers, educators and entrepreneurs. This was Mastercard Foundation’s strategy that would enable 30 million young people in Africa, to access dignified and fulfilling work over the next 10 years.’’
In Nigeria, she said, Young Africa Works aimed to see 10 million young Nigerians, the majority young women, in work opportunities by 2030. “Agriculture is at the heart of Africa’s economic transformation, it will profoundly define the future of work especially in agriculture – production, processing, financing, packaging and marketing.’’