Tag Archives: Africa

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

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KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE MANAGING DIRECTOR, EKIMIKS NIGERIA LIMITED

Mr Tope Ekiyor Miriki
Mr Tope Ekiyor Miriki, Managing Director of Ekimiks Nigeria Limited delivering a keynote address

 

Good Morning distinguished ladies and Gentlemen. All protocols duly observed please.

We welcome you all to this Business Training Workshop jointly organised by Ekimiks and IITA. For us in Ekimiks, it is a great honour to be associated with the IITA Young Agripreneurs (IYA) initiative.

We are aware of the frightening statistics on youth unemployment in Nigeria and Africa at large, the IYA initiative is one of many solutions that would help to reduce this menace. The IYA is collaborating with other initiatives including the recently launched Youth Employment in Agriculture Program (YEAP) to ensure that the youth are given the necessary opportunities to exit the unemployment queues and excel as Business Owners.

The newly coined term “Agripreneur” we all know, is a combination of 2 words – Agriculture and Entrepreneur. It implies that those fit this description have the required competencies in both Production and Entrepreneurship.

We trust that IITA with its vast array of Agricultural Scientists and Experts has been able to train the IYA members in the best Agricultural Practices. However to be a true Agripreneur, each one must have the essential Business Management skills that would enable them not only to survive but to thrive and excel as Entrepreneurs. We know that all business is tough – business survival ratio is less than 50%, but Agriculture is even tougher than others. Therefore, it is vital that our Youth Agripreneurs are adequately prepared so they would excel – not only in the Technical aspects but in the Business aspects too; hence the need for a Business Training forum.

As a company founded by a young entrepreneur many years ago, Ekimiks chose to sponsor the Business Management training aspect of the development of the young Agripreneurs. It is our own little contribution to the efforts of IITA and the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina in ensuring that young Nigerians and Africans are effectively equipped for 21st century living.

The objective of this workshop is to bring high grade Business Management education like those obtained in the best Business Schools to our young Agripreneurs. The curriculum has been carefully designed and it covers all major areas that an Entrepreneur needs to develop the necessary proficiencies.

I therefore, urge all the participants to take full advantage of the workshop; pay attention, learn, write notes, ask questions, participate in discussions. Opportunities like this are not commonplace – please use it well.

We thank our invited guests for honouring our invitation. Many of them are accomplished Agripreneurs – Role Models that the young ones would do well to learn from and follow their examples.

We thank IITA for the opportunity to partner with them in this very laudabke project.

We thank the Training Consultants – LA Consult for their role in designing and facilitating this program. We trust that they would deliver the quality education that they are reputed for.

Thank you all and do have a great program.