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A brighter future: Youth engagement along agricultural value chains

Several stakeholders have called for engagements of youth within the sector. However, the prevalent challenges outweigh the number of stakeholders calling reaching out to the youth. Despite the recognition of the importance of engaging youth within the agricultural sector and development community, a cohesive and deliberate approach has to be defined to augment the efforts still being fragmented. To properly capture youth viewpoints, their aspirations and their experiences in agriculture their more direct engagements and collaborations with their older counterparts, stakeholder at both private and public levels came together to address youth’s challenges and help discover a way to address these.

The Feed Nigeria Summit 2018

Agriculture in Nigeria over the last couple of years has seen changes in policies and initiatives developed towards transforming the sector and ensuring a boom within the sector with various programs like the Home-Grown School Feeding Program (HGSFP) which the Federal Government aimed at connecting with the farm-gate in 2017. It is therefore imperative to have the youth angle presented to stakeholders in order to promote inclusion and youth dynamism in the sector through engagements via technology and innovation.

The Feed Nigeria Summit which is known as a convocation for stakeholders provides an opportunity for participants to come together to discuss and present ways to attain and ensure sustainable growth, enhance productivity, collaboration and foster partnerships to boost the sector. Critical players within the sector like the African Development Bank (AfDB), Triton Group, Stallion Group, Notore PLC, Flour Mills of Nigeria (FMN), Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Fullmark and other stakeholders were on hand to deliberate on mechanisms for improved productivity and track Nigeria’s plan towards food sufficiency and address key national agricultural productivity issues such as finance, market access, research, infrastructure, mechanization, ICT, youth and gender, as well as opposite policies and legislation.

Dr. Martin Fregene, Director of Agriculture and Agroforestry in his keynote speech noted that only through innovations in technology, institutions, finance and markets can Nigeria compete globally in the sector. Dr. Fregene in his recommendations pointed out that for optimum productivity there is the need for policy makers to ensure a possibility of new crop or livestock varieties get to farmers who need them while also encouraging institutional investors to invest in agriculture and improve on its available financing.

Dr. Adebisi Araba, Africa Director of CIAT in the same vein underscored that in order for Nigeria to be taken out of poverty, there is the need for innovative reforms in the sector by placing the private sector in the driving seat. Dr. Araba in his keynote presentation noted that a large population does not always translate to a large market, but the ability of such population to live above poverty creates opportunities.

Youth session

The highlight of the two-day event was the youth and gender plenary session on taking ownership via a New Narrative - which had YPARD Nigeria’s Partnerships and Fundraising Officer, Mr. Tokurah Majid representing the Country representative Eric Nyikwagh in serving at a panel session together with singer and songwriter Mrs. Omawunmi Megbele; Muyi Ladoja; MD/CEO 21st Century Agriculture LTD; Mrs. Lizzy N Igbine, National President, Nigerian Women Agro-allied Farmers Association; and Mr. Sanusi Idowu, Political Aspirant and Farmer.

The session was an opportunity to engage participants in the youth narrative to engagement within the sector and introduce the YPARD network to participants at the event for engagement and collaborations.

The hope of engaging the youth

Agriculture is at the centre of Nigeria’s economic growth and with its strong youthful population, there is hope for consolidation for growth with young people’s engagement in the sector. The YPARD network over the last couple of years has taken this campaign to groups, organization and events. This time around YPARD representatives engaged Top level stakeholders and facilitated the youth sessions at Nigeria’s Top Agricultural Convocation - “The Feed Nigeria Summit” which was held from the 30th to 31st July 2018 at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Abuja, Nigeria. The lessons of this event could be summed up in Dr. Adebisi Araba’s words:If young people engage in the agricultural value chains considering the many opportunities available, the future will be brighter and bigger.

 

Photo credit: Jidkod