THE #AgribizChats

#AgribizChats3

This is #AgribizChats: Facilitating solutions to youth unemployment.

The issue of youth unemployment has caught the attention of both the local and international bodies. Government, private and public institutions have come up with initiatives to tackle the menace. One of such initiatives is the IITA Youth Agripreneurs. The IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) initiative was IITA’s contribution in stemming the tide of unemployment. IITA under the leadership of the DG, Dr Nteranya Sanginga believes that by reorienting youth towards more productive engagement in agriculture, unemployment will become history. Although involving youth in agriculture reflects hope for unemployed youth but there are several issues and challenges in achieving this. For suggestions and contribution in tackling these challenges, join us on #AgribizChats. This is a platform for facilitating solutions to youth unemployment through e-discussions.

What is #AgribizChats?

#AgribizChats is the first Twitter chat platform of IYA that will provide our audiences the opportunity to share and receive tips for topics relating but not limited to youth development and entrepreneurship most especially in Agriculture and Agribusiness.

How will the topics be chosen?

IITA Youth Agripreneurs will brainstorm and decide on the best topics to discuss at a particular period of time. We will also take into consideration at every time, feedback from all participants. The feedback would help in determining the topics.

How do I participate in #AgribizChats?

We enjoin you to be part of the conversation by following our official Twitter handle, @IITAYOUTHAGRIP. You will also get updates on the latest news and events about IYA. For questions and responses, tweet us on twitter hashtag:  #AgribizChats so you can be seen and heard.

Why should I participate in #AgribizChats?

As we continue to reorient youth towards active engagement in agriculture, the discussion will not be limited to the challenges faced by youths on unemployment, we would jointly proffer solutions to the problems surrounding these issues and other related issues. However, it is important for individuals, youth groups, organisations (local and international) and other stakeholders to get involved as joint discussions will help generate strong, important and useful ideas.

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Transforming IITA to nourish Africa

Group Picture of CGIAR Consortium and IITA Youth Agripreneurs
Dr Frank Rijsberman, CEO CGIAR Consortium with the IITA Youth Agripreneurs

My first visit to IITA was in 1982. As a young scientist with the Delft Hydraulics Lab in the Netherlands I worked on my first soil science project that also happened to become my last. I had obtained funding for a project on the impact of soil erosion on soil productivity and I was looking for good data. My research led me to IITA soil scientist Rattan Lal who was among the five scientists I had identified across the globe that had the time series data I needed and he agreed to work with me. My funding enabled me to visit all 5 research groups to see their experiments and go over their data. This was my first visit to Nigeria.

And then we arrived at IITA. Once cleared by security the car started up the long driveway, flanked by rolling hills with bright green grass, cut smooth like a golf course, dotted with picturesque palm trees, painted bright white. The contrast of this oasis of quiet prettiness with the chaotic world outside the barbed wire fence could not be greater. A well-oiled, well-maintained, well-equipped island of advanced research. A small army of well-trained Nigerian staff to support a team of senior researchers that were almost without exception white, male and Anglophone — or indeed, Dutch. Rattan Lal was a fine host, had many years of excellent data, and was a great collaborator for my project (Rijsberman and Wolman, 1985).

Since then, I have visited and worked in Nigeria quite a bit, including a two-year stint as Chief Technical Advisor of a UNDP project to strengthen the Ministry of Water Resources in Abuja in the late 80s. But fast forward to 2012: I rejoined the CGIAR as the CEO of the CGIAR Consortium in May 2012 and started an effort to visit all 15 Centers. In July-August the Consortium Board Chair, Carlos Perez del Castillo, and I visited AfricaRice in Cotonou, Benin and then traveled overland to Ibadan. We were received by the new DG, Nteranya Sanginga, and the new Board Chair, Bruce Coulman and given the grand tour. We met with scientists, discussed the newly reformed CGIAR, enjoyed presentations of the key science groups, saw the laboratories, and hiked the forest.

Humidtropics  VIP at Agripreneur%27s office (Copy)
Dr Frank Rijsberman, CEO CGIAR Consortium at the Agripreneurs’ office

I was also very impressed by the dynamic presentations and self-confidence of the young graduates in IITA’s Youth Agripreneur program. With unemployment of young Nigerian graduates as high as 60-70%, this program aims to show that there is a future for young Africans in agriculture, that there is viable employment and an attractive career in catfish aquaculture, in soymilk production, yam sucker farms and cassava bread production.

Dr Sanginga, who is the father of this program and naturally very proud of its success, predicts that it can scale up and out, in Nigeria and other African countries —his vision is about a movement to give a future back to millions of African youth through agriculture and the value chains in the agri-food business. The program is just a start and has already attracted attention from IFAD, AfDB, and the Nigerian government. It is a good example of what the CGIAR can do when it focuses on youth—very timely with “gender and youth” identified as a key cross-cutting issue in the new CGIAR strategy.

Written by Frank Rijsberman, CEO CGIAR Consortium

Get the original article on CGIAR Consortium website