THE INTELLECTUAL AND THE MOTIVATED YOUTH IN AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY

MotivationAs part of efforts to finding lasting solutions to one of the major problems facing youth unemployment and underemployment in Africa; “Non-existence of a network of well skilled young entrepreneurs around rural agribusiness service clusters (hubs) that attract private sector investors for long time sustainable development”, an analogy has been drawn out to deal with the problem thoroughly. This analogy was based on the listed youth groups.

  1. THE INTELLECTUALLY COMPLIANT AND MOTIVATED
  2. THE INTELLECTUALLY COMPLIANT BUT NOT MOTIVATED
  3. THE INTELLECTUALLY CHALLENGED BUT MOTIVATED and
  4. THE INTELLECTUALLY CHALLENGED AND NOT MOTIVATED
Dr Ambrose Agona, DG- NARO, Uganda (R) and Adefioye Adedayo, IITA Youth Agripreneur

Here the viewer explains the intellectually compliant as a youth who has the knowledge and skills in business, communication, economics, marketing, networking and other par excellence academic attributes not exclusively or limited to agriculture or agribusiness only.

Do they exist? YES! They are the graduates from tertiary institutions who wake the roads and streets up early in the morning and return late in the night with either nothing in their stomach and or nothing in their pockets. But they are motivated especially towards Agriculture and Agribusiness, either because they hold it as a form of generating income or as a sustainability tool for their future.

However, what of the intellectually compliant but not motivated? They are also as advantaged as the former but not interested in Agriculture. Nevertheless, some percentages of these youth still fill the space world of unemployment in the communities.

The third group reflects the youth who are “disadvantaged”, who mostly reside in the rural with traces in the urban. These youth do not have the formal education or professional skills but they are strongly interested in Agriculture. They are the intellectually challenged but motivated, who are the active primary producers in the Agricultural value chain.

The fourth group also exists but almost ignorable on the platform of agricultural development and sustainability with youth. This quadrant has no interest in agriculture and is also intellectually challenged. Why should they be ignored? Could it be for their lack of interest in Agriculture? Could it be for their lack of skills?

But to the viewer “why invest in a bird that cannot lay an egg?”

However, the first three groups have correlations, they need themselves in taking agriculture to the next level both nationally and internationally. But the questions we need to address are HOW?

There offers two opportunities to the intellectually compliant and motivated youth group

  1. To work together with the second group (intellectually compliant but not motivated) because they can relate with each other on the same platform, and motivate them into doing agriculture or agribusiness and
  2. To work with the third group (intellectually challenged but motivated). Although they may not communicate effectively but they have a common interest that would serve as a means of attraction, given that they form the major primary producers in the Agricultural value chains. They could also be trained and educated gradually as their relationship strengthens up to meet up the market standard both nationally and internationally.

The second group could also play a role in training the intellectually challenged but might take long, but progressive process. It is however, observed that with proper capacity development, mentoring, coaching and/or provision of supportive and relevant resources, the quadrants are dynamic and flexible, and allows graduation into successful business realms.

The initiative conceptualization workshop has done a lot of work addressing realities about youth and concepts, and this analogy was one of the ways in dealing with the problems facing the youth.

Viewer: DR Ambrose Agona Director General NARO, UGANDA

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The Youth and the challenges of Agriculture in Africa (My #YADI14 Overview)

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Youths with the honourable minister of Agriculture – Dr. Akinwumi Adesina

“Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” –Franz Kafka, being a youth is a very important stage of one’s life and that beauty of dreaming is the most vital strength of a youth especially in Africa where challenges or if you want to say problems abound in Agriculture.

Africa needs to build the human capital that allows young people to escape poverty; terrorism and violence, to live better and more fulfilling lives. The human capital formed in youth is thus an important determinant of long-term growth. Hence, the need for making sure that the youth is well prepared for the future, which is enormously important to the course of employment generation, poverty reduction and economic growth.

Youths have boundless of strengths, few are:

The physical strength“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”  Friedrich Nietzsche

Youth are risk takers“If you don’t take risks, you’ll have a wasted soul.”  Drew Barrymore

Youth are great adapters and adopters of technology “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” Albert Einstein

Youth easily interactive and network “It occurs to me that our survival may depend upon our talking to one another.” Dan Simmons

The Challenges of Agriculture in Africa as an Opportunity

Perception is the main challenge of agriculture in Africa. The idea of using old methods to produce crops (the use of  hoes and cutlasses) which makes it looks stressful , agriculture is for the people in the rural areas, agriculture is a tool or sector for poverty eradication, agriculture is a retirement job to mention a few should not be considered as challenges.

We as youth should start to see agriculture as a business, explore the value chains for example investment in inputsproductionpost-harvest and aggregationprocessingwholesale and retail →consumption. Production is only a part of agriculture being innovative in adding little value like processing of a farm commodity, increases the market value of that commodity.

Modern tools like the internet (ICT) , developing application, that would to link the market to farmers and farmers to farmers in procuring chemicals, seeds, renting of machinery, fertilizers, and other inputs cut out the intermediaries and reduce corruption.

The public sector, the government should put in place policies (which involves the youth) that would encourage the participation of the private sector investment providing soft loans to youths to set up their agriculture enterprise.

Let us as youth see opportunities out these few challenges and more that our beloved continent and other continents face, innovate and make a business out of those problems.

The Youth Agribusiness Development Initiative #YADI14 may be over but we should not stop engaging on both Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #YADI14

Blogpost by Adesanya Omotomiwa, IYA member

JOB CREATION IS ALSO MY AIM- WINNER OF THE BEST SCIENCE PROJECT IN NIGERIA FOR 2013 #YADI14

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Mr Obidele Lukman, flanked by The Honourable Minister of Agriculture – Dr. Akinwumi Adesina and the IITA DG – Dr. Nteranya SANGINGA


During the project conceptualization workshop, May 29, 2014 was one moment that would remain memorable in the life of Mr Obidele Lukman, the award winner for the best science project 2013 in Nigeria, when he received the national recognition and a cash gift of 500 USD from the Honorable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina.

Mr Obidele Lukman who holds a Nigeria Certificate in Education in Science Laboratory Technology in National Certificate, and graduated from the Federal College of animal Health and production technology, Moor Plantation, Ibadan, Nigeria, spoke to Adefioye Adedayo, one of the IITA Youth Agripreneurs on the aim of his project with his motivation and prospects.

He carried out a project on the “Utilization of poultry wastes for Biogas production”, and in his statement it was a research-based project work that revealed the efficacy of generating biogases from what have been generally tagged wastes particularly the feaces and feathers of poultry birds I.e. energy production from poultry wastes. The major gas produced was Methane with traces of Nitrogen dioxide and hydrogen sulphide gas.

Methane he said is a major constituent of natural gas which can be used for automobiles and domestic appliances.

DSC_0345Asking him on the reason(s) for choosing that particular project, he said he was really interested in something that could have positive impact directly on the lives of people economically and even globally, while using Agriculture as one of the tools in a science driven manner. Emphasizing on the economic impact, gas produced being produced can be used at homes as fuels for their domestic appliance.

He later highlighted the major aims of his project:

  • Reduction of pollution: Pollution form poultry and generally livestock farm’s seriously threatens humans, fish and ecosystems. As Agricultural firms increase across the country with the value chains of Fisheries and Livestock production receiving increased attention, the possibilities of pollution from Agricultural wastes to increase is high. A way to tackle this is to adopt the conversion of these pollution elements into something useful.
  • Wealth creation: It is also a way of making extra money into the pockets thereby turning it into another value chain of income generation.
  • Employment opportunities: Ultimately, mitigating the alarming rate of unemployment in the society is a remarkable idea and this project is one that does just that especially targeted at youth unemployment.

The Honorable minster admired his courage and interest in solving unemployment and encouraged him to soar higher in his quest to also finding lasting solution to the problem of unemployment using Agriculture majorly while integrating it with other sectors of the country.

Express your opinion on the event using the hashtag #YADI14 on twitter and Facebook.

Blogpost by Adefioye Adedayo, IYA member and a social media reporter for the #YADI14

THE ROLES OF YOUTH IN THE REALIZATION OF THE #YADI14 INITIATIVE

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Cross section of National Youth Service Corps members at the #YADI14 event.

Young people in any country represent the future of a country. They have a vital role to play in the development of their country, a duty they must perform. There are many ways that youth can contribute to national development; they can do so by working hard in any field they are involved in, be it teaching, engineering or farming field.

However, to ensure the active participation of young people in national agribusiness, they need to be supported and encouraged by the government, the private sector, the civil society and their parents. They also need to have a mind-set that agriculture isn’t a way of life, but a business which should be taken serious.

In view of this, opinions were sought from some youth about the Youth Agribusiness Development Initiative (YADI). They were asked what they think about the initiative and the roles they think youth can play in making the program a reality.

Busayo, a graduate of Soil science and Land resource management presently serving as a youth corps member at International Institute of Tropical Agriculture(IITA) said the initiative is a good program which would enable youth to be fully brought into the agricultural sector, and that Nigeria is moving to a stage where agriculture will be our main stay and move away from oil production and focus more on her first love, which is agriculture. She believes youths are capable and that the program will be able to enlighten and open the eyes of people to see what future really lies in agriculture. The role youth can play in making the program a reality is making themselves available for the program/task ahead.

Caroline, a graduate of crop science was happy about the initiative, and said that there has been lot of challenges because people always think she is hopeless all because she studied agriculture. She believes youth can play many roles in the actualization of the program, but what matters most is their determination.

Oni , a graduate of water resources management, said the program is a good platform to learn. He believes that youth needs to be re-oriented and start to see agriculture from a different perspective, and then the orientation should start from the grassroots; seminars should be carried out at primary schools, secondary schools, at the tertiary institutions, even at market places.

Samuel , a graduate of Biochemistry said the Youth Initiative is a timely one particularly when things are turning down in the economy of African Countries. The fear of where to go next, seeking job would have been answered in a long run-in a long way, but with the advent of the initiative, it’s wonderful and everyone can attest to it that it’s a timely one. He believes youth can make the program a reality if they voice out on certain issues and areas that actually concern them especially on agriculture. Also, youth must show interest as this will make the program a successful one.

To conclude, I will not forget to add the words of the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina: “Mindset is like the ruler of a ship, what you set is where you go. Young people need to see agriculture differently apart from what it used to be, by so doing, agribusiness can be actualized.”

Use the #YADI14 hashtag on Twitter and Facebook to follow the events online on Facebook and Twitter.

Blogpost by  Funmilayo Oyesiji, IYA member and a social media reporter for the #YADI14

The role of Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria in Youth Development

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Director Of Gender And Youth In Agricultural Research And Innovation Agricultural Research Council Of Nigerian (ARCN) – Mrs D.I Ogbede

The Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria dedicates itself to achieving significant improvements in agricultural productivity, marketing and competitiveness by generating appropriate technologies and policy options, promoting innovation, establishing a knowledge management capacity and strengthening the agricultural research system.

Apart  from research they have program for youth also both young and teenagers the council is providing the needed guidance , training extension and career development for youth through our 15 national Agriculture Research institute and 11 Federal colleges of agriculture and agricultural research the council has a fully structure gender and youth program/development that caters for youth issues. Recently  a sensitization workshop was organized for Nigerian youths with the aim of creating awareness and interest in agriculture and agricultural research .this yielded positive results and measurable impact. The council is also engaged in programs for youth, some of which are :

  • OND and HND trainings in various field of agriculture by our federal colleges of agriculture e.g crop production, processing, fisheries, livestock, etc.
  • Vocational training in agriculture is also conducted for the youth and interested farmers in our federal colleges of Agriculture.
  • Education support in terms of scholarship on university courses in undergraduate and doctorate degrees.

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The council runs a program called Agricultural Research Outreach Center (AROC) for secondary schools where agricultural technologies from our Research institutes are disseminated and introduced in to the farming system of the selected schools. This programmed aims at ensuring the involvement and interest of young students in Agriculture.

Furthermore, the council intends to have a core of young professionals in Agricultural research who can be giving mentorship and career development guidance and it also intends to setup an entrepreneurship/agribusiness development scheme for the youth in order to empower them in Agriculture.

Use the #YADI14 hashtag on Twitter and Facebook to follow the events online on Facebook and Twitter.

Blogpost by  Funmilola Lamidi,  IYA member and a social media reporter for the #YADI14.

The Nigeria’s Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina Pledge to support IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA)

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In a plenary session on youth issues and challenges, the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, while addressing the participants, gave a little story of his ambition right from child hood. He said at age 14, he finished high school. After obtaining a form for admission into the tertiary institution _ University of Ibadan, his Dad kept  filling Medicine, Veterinary and Dentistry as a choice of course for his University degree. This was done for 3 consecutive years and the University management kept declining his offer, thereby offering him admission on agronomy. This was when his Dad accepted his fate to study agriculture in the university.

The Honourable minister stressed the fact that; to get young entrepreneurs like IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA), the University curriculum must be changed to accommodate a change in mindset of young future entrepreneurs from the grass root. He further highlighted some statistics which underscored his success in office as an Agriculture Minister because he was opportune to have his capacity built by IITA and some like organizations. Part of his office success story is that; in 2013, 10.5 million farmers was registered under the platform of Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES), 15 million was registered by 2014, 8 million farmers reached directly over mobile phone by 2013, thereby increasing livelihood of 40 million people. Over 30 bakeries in the country are now producing substitutes of cassava and wheat composite bread and that will save the country of 125 billion Naira every year from importation of wheat.

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Cross section of IIITA Youth Agripreneurs.

He pointed out that 65% of Africa land will feed the nation if drastic measures are taken place. He also sited an example of how modern successful and ultimately wealthy  a farmer should be viewed, using U.S.A and European farmers as examples and that he wants the youth to grow in that mindset and direction.

Concluding his address, he proclaimed by saying ‘we want to create next generation of agribusiness farmers’ and that he has invested interest in IYA’s success and finalized by pledging a sum of money to IYA for IITA to link the IYA Youth to greater companies so as to build their capacity, and that he himself wants to be a focus media on the IYA.

Follow the events on the #YADI14 event anywhere in the world using the hashtag on Twitter and Facebook to get proffered solutions on these challenges.

Blogpost by Johnbosco Ezemenaka, IYA member and a social media reporter for the #YADI14

Africa must not be a museum for poverty

 

Poor African Farmers: detterents to youth involvement in Agriculture. Image: Flickr user Find Your Feet
Poor African Farmers: deterrents to youth involvement in Agriculture. Image: Flickr user Find Your Feet

Africa is the most poverty stricken of all the world’s continents, with approximately 750 million subsistence farmers, who are living undernourished and degraded lives where their current crops yields cannot even provide for their families requirements, let alone make a profit. Billions of dollars stream into Africa every year and yet the poor are getting poorer and the numbers of poor people are increasing.

We should equip African farmers with the knowledge to transform their current agriculture systems in a way that lifts people up and that equips and enables the poor to feed themselves, generate income, and break the yoke of poverty forever.

The need for rapid agricultural development for poverty alleviation is particularly pronounced in sub-Saharan Africa , there has been no increase in fertilizer use and crop yields, but the population has been increasing, meaning less food for everyone. Many African rural areas are now characterized by a combination of poor soil health, poor crop health and poor livestock health, all major factors contributing to poor human and environmental health.

To lift developing countries out of poverty, large increases in the scale of agricultural research and environmental assessment will be required. Information concerning the soil fertility deficiencies should be readily disseminated to farmers in a timely manner, through their government’s agricultural research institutions therefore enabling them to input the required fertilizers on time and thus increase food production.

With soil fertility issues on check, farmers should be advised on how to use plant diversity to fuel developments. Since the farmers are well aware of the relationship between stability and sustainability of their production systems and the diversity of crops and crop varieties on their lands, their management and use of a diverse range of plants can often help them to survive under the most difficult conditions.

By growing a range of different crops, farmers will have a better chance of having enough of the right kinds of crops to meet their various needs and those of their families. These might include, for example, crops that mature at different times or that can be easily stored, helping to ensure a stable food supply throughout the year.

Growing a range of crops may help farmers provide a nutritionally-balanced diet for their family, exploit different environmental niches that exist on their land, or diversify their sources of income to include, for example, medicines, fuel, textiles, building materials, and “novelty” foods for export, etc.

Genetic resources can improve the livelihoods of poor farmers and forest dwellers by reducing their vulnerability to shocks and seasonal changes. Given access to new varieties of plants that produces higher-yielding disease-resistant crops, farmers can produce more food than their families need so they can sell their surplus crops at local markets. If they have access to the world market they can grow cash crops for export.

That will give them additional income with which to buy more clothing and household goods, thus stimulating other parts of the economy. This will increase demand for services of food processing, storage, transportation and marketing. Thus a small increase in farm output increases demand for other goods and services and becomes a catalyst for broad-based economic growth.

The prosperity then begins to spread. The farm families, as well as those working in other parts of the economy, have more money and their demand for imported goods begins to rise. This stimulates the growth of exports from other countries. Because economic growth requires new market for goods and services, the destinies of countries are intertwined with each other.

By reducing hunger and poverty, the rehabilitation of agriculture can have an important impact on other development scourges, through its role in underpinning economic development, reducing poverty and preventing environmental destruction. Until then will the youths be actively involved in Agriculture.

Let us apply the above and make agriculture as a business, not as a humanitarian aid to pull people at out of poverty and malnutrition, only then will Africa seize to be a museum for poverty and the youth will actively involve in Agriculture as a business.

Join actively in this discussion from anywhere in the world using the #YADI14 hashtag on Twitter and Facebook.

Blogpost by  Adewuyi Gbemisola, IYA member and a social media reporter for the #YADI14

 Opportunities and perceptions in Agriculture by youth

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“Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize” > Ann Landers

Opportunities lies in problems, perceptions are mere feelings towards problems. Passing over opportunities repeatedly makes one poor. Let us explore few opportunities and perceptions together.

Opportunities in agriculture or agribusiness is not just in using hoes and cutlasses in sowing the seeds in soil, harvesting and selling the yield or produces.

Perceptions of the youth towards agriculture is that it is agriculture is a hard and tough job. We need to modernise agriculture by mechanising the farming process and make it look cool and attractive to the youths, this is a call to action for public and private sectors in every country in Africa.

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Opportunities in agriculture or agribusiness is adding value to the harvest.

Perception of the youth is that you must sell your harvest yourself. However,youths can simply add value to various agricultural products for example in Nigeria the only value added to cassava, mainly making garri and fufu out of it, opportunities here is making glues, starch, ethanol and other valuable products.

Opportunities is seeing Agriculture as a business, not as a sector to pull people out of poverty. The perception here is that the society see agriculture as a sector to eradicate poverty, but the sector in this age has gone pass that societal view.

Before I conclude I must say most educated African youths lack the skill to building an enterprise because the school only prepared us to work for people and not to set up our own enterprise, we only have those labels which the school gave us as graduates. The schools in all level of a student’s life must train and make agriculture attractive.

The government has to be more proactive towards creating platforms and initiatives to engage and train youths through policies to make agriculture attractive to the youth all-over Africa.

Opportunities in agriculture abound, focusing and exploring these opportunities than perception is the way forward to youth engagement in Africa. Please follow events on the Young Agribusiness Development Initiative #YADI14

Blogpost by  Adesanya Omotomiwa , IYA member and a social media reporter for the #YADI14

Are there really skilled youth in Agriculture?

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Youth getting skilled in ICT for Agriculture. Photo Credit: Inoussa Maiga

Are there skilled youths in agriculture? Are the skilled youths valued by the society? Are the government (public sector) and the private sector ready to invest in the larger rural community? how much of the funds allocated to the rural communities get to them? Can the skilled youths be linked with the larger farming communities?  These the questions I have in mind.

The group focused on the issues that agriculture as to be seen as attractive by both the skilled youth and the larger farming communities by basically changing the mindset of the youth and communities, which is the first step to making the engagement of both the farming community and skilled youth have a meeting point to share ideas with each other. The group identified major problems and the causes of the problems, which are:

Limited public and private platforms to mobilize skilled youths in agriculture: The public sector which the government and the private agricultural groups or organizations that exists does not have a platform that the available skilled youths can tap into to reach out to the larger farming communities. The causes for these are:

  • Limited involvement of the youth in policy making.
  • Existing programs in private sector are not youth/gender sensitive.

Perception of larger community that agriculture is not a profitable venture: The rural community is out of reach to the information in the urban centers because of lack of basic modern day tools enlighten and help in changing their mind-set to the technologies of the 21st century, some of the causes alighted are:

  • Emphasis is still on the subsistence agriculture.
  • Limited use of improved technologies and mechanization.
  • little or no value-addition
  • lack of organized marketing system
  • Lack of infrastructure in rural areas.

Limited access to input (incentive, loans, credit facilities, and insurance etc.), some causes are

  • lack of collateral to obtain loan
  • high interest bank rates

Family obligations of the African women (youth) limit the geographical coverage and effective more participation in agribusiness enterprise

Limited information about the existence of skilled youth and the services they can provide, the causes to these problem are:

  • weak extension services
  • skilled youths are not reaching out; here, my question is how do youths that have the modern day tools like the internet solely as a means of reaching out to the world reach out to a rural larger community that do not even own a phone?

Follow us on twitter @IITAYOUTHAGRIP; iitaYouthAgripreneur on Facebook for more potential solutions and activity log, also follow the event real time via #YADI14.

Blogpost by  Adesanya Omotomiwa , IYA member and a social media reporter for the #YADI14

Can Youth in entrepreneurship be a tool for Agricultural Transformation in Africa?

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This is a question which received an answer by an initiative conceptualization workshop organized by a youth group called ‘IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA)’ on the ‘ Engagement of Youth Entrepreneurship for Agricultural Transformation in Africa’  which was supported by AGRA (Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa), SARD-SC (Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa). One of the resource persons – Dr. Namanga Ngongi who is a member of the IITA Board of Trustees, gave a keynote address.

In his keynote address, he specifically gave an example of his experience on one of his trips to an African country, telling that he had an encounter with an Agripreneur selling crickets (packaged and branded). He further underscored the fact that; if an employment and wealth could be created by packaging mere insect and selling as an agribusiness, then everything in agriculture should be taken as a business. For more video information on this, click here.

Drawing conclusion to this, the participants broke out into sessions to brainstorm and find the causes of lack of engagement  of youths in agribusiness. Below are the outcomes of the group I participated in which had 28 participants.

My group was to find out sub-causes on non-existence of a network of well educated and motivated young entrepreneurs around rural agribusiness service cluster (hubs) that attract private sector investor for long term sustainable development.

My group findings were that:

  1. There is lack of strategic alliances and partnership at local, regional, national and continental level that have established channels of communication that can help disseminate information to the youth on the economic benefits of employment in the agricultural sector.
  2. While agriculture gain from adequate technical training form different initiatives, there is a need for business and communication skills, value chain development and capacity building training that allows independent farmers and youth to form alliances and lobby for funding from interested organizations.
  3. There is limited number of functional and dynamic youth groups engaging in agriculture, particularly in rural areas.
  4. There is no effective, gender sensitive, national strategy that links existing youth agric-organizations to agricultural financing agencies.
  5. There is no established government or private sector platforms that facilitate linkages between academic institutes (agriculture graduates) and existing agric-business to create a dynamic job market with a balance of supply and demand.
  6. No academic curricula and youth engagement initiatives do not provide for a mentored environment for youth to gain practical entrepreneurial experience.

During our brainstorming sessions, I ultimately noted the fact that without access or proper access to communication technologies platform for the rural youth e.g internet access that may enable information dissemination from the agricultural sector, there would be a crawl in the improvement of network of well educated and motivated young entrepreneurs around agribusiness service clusters (hubs) that attract private sector investors for long term sustainable development.

Follow the events on the #YADI14 event using the hashtag on Twitter and Facebook to get proffered solutions on these challenges.

Blogpost by Johnbosco Ezemenaka, IYA member and a social media reporter for the #YADI14