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IYA, SLU explore possible collaboration (#IYA_SLU)

A group photograph of IITA Youth Agripreneurs and SLU students

Students of Agricultural and Rural Management at Swedish University of Agriculture (SLU) in Sweden were on an exchange visit to Nigeria to explore areas of partnership with the IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) in Ibadan between 18- 25 August, 2015.

The partnership which is part of IYA’s objective to gain momentum and upscale agriculture by providing jobs for young, well-educated persons in the agricultural sector is expected to widen the horizon of both groups on adoptable modern agronomic practices and mechanization.

During an interactive session between IYA and the SLU students on Thursday, August 20, 2015, the two groups shared their experience on agribusiness, mechanization, value addition and also challenges encountered by young agripreneurs in the agricultural sector.

Giving a background of IYA, a member of IYA, Evelyn Ohanwusi stated that members of the group have been able to increase their level of productivity and income through the various staple crops and value addition of their commodities. She also gave an insight of how each unit of the organization operate and complement each other’s effort across the agricultural value chain.

Ohanwusi Evelyn, while facilitating the interactive session

Stressing that agriculture although is very profitable, would be more fascinating to youth if modern technologies and mechanization are available and accessible.

Also giving a presentation of their activities, a representative of SLU, Richard Karlsson said after graduation from the institution, many of them become farm managers, advisor for banks, crop production, insurance etc.

SLU students (Standing); Richard Karlsson (Far left), Kim Eriksson (2nd from left), Charlotta Ydren (2nd from right), and Christine Sanden (Far right)

He stated that the younger generation of farmers in Sweden has been able to make a difference in the agriculture sector through education and the use of modern farming technologies.

“Your network of knowledge in school gives you higher chances of income and profit when running your own field because you’ve learnt know what to do and how to do it better. Starting the farming business is not easy in Sweden as well because the machines are quite expensive. Getting a market for your produce is another challenge faced by farmers in Sweden too” he said.

The SLU students; Richard Karlsson, Kim Eriksson, Charlotta Ydren, and Christine Sanden who were accompanied by Prof Teun Dekker, Mr Torsten Horndahl, Larssson Jan from their institution also visited IYA fields and facilities and some other agribusiness enterprises within the South West metropolis of Nigeria during the visit.

CEO Durante Fish Industry, Chief Ogie Alakija and Management Visit IITA Youth Agripreneurs

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DG IITA, Dr Nteranya Sanginga (9th from left), Chief Ogie Alakija (10th from left), Management staff of Durante Fish Industry, IITA Scientists and IITA Youth Agripreneurs during the visit

On Wednesday, October 22, 2014, the management of the Durante Fish industries and other distinguished guests paid a courtesy visit to the headquarters of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

IITA has been linked with the Durante Fish Industry which was responsible for the training of the IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) – that led to the formation of the group’s fishery unit – and the resultant backstopping, but is now exploring the possibility of furthering its partnership with the aquaculture giants. IITA Youth Agripreneurs had earlier reflected through the strategic workplan in January to invest in Aquaculture as a means of advancing youth employment among young people especially unemployed graduates and enhancing income.

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Bekee Barituka, one of the IITA Youth Agripreneurs delivering a keynote address

After a warm reception at the Conference Center, the visiting team made a tour to IYA’s fish ponds and some of the institute’s facilities. They expressed delight to see the progress made by the Agripreneurs in fisheries over the past couple of months. “If we have achieved this much in such a short time, then we are prepared to continue and expand this relationship,” said Chief Ogie Alakija, Chairman of Durante Fish Industries Limited.

The group has 4 active ponds stocked with over 20,000 fishes which by November would be harvested, while 9 more earthen ponds are under construction. According to Olaniyi Ajibola, the Coordinator of Fishery Unit of IYA, “we have realized that with little capital, young people can go into production and grow gradually.”

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Ibironke Ifedayo demonstrating the feeding of fishes at the pond to the guests
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DG IITA, Dr Nteranya Sanginga [far right] talks about the Business Incubation Platform.

From the pond, a stop was made at the field where improved varieties of various crops were showcased and their post-harvest products displayed. The tour culminated in a visit to the institute’s Business Incubation Platform (BIP) – a model approach in boosting delivery of research results for enhanced impact across Africa.

IITA Youth Agripreneurs in its major goal of reorienting youths toward more productive engagement in agriculture continue to forge alliances with the private sector as the importance of private sector partnership cannot be overemphasized in scaling out  the group’s model, while developing the capacity of the group.

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Article written by Bekee Barituka