The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and partners have advised stakeholders in the agro-industry to collaborate, invest and empower youths to make the sector economically viable and productive.
This was the primary submission at the agribusiness investors network organized by the Innovative Youth in Agriculture (I-Youth) held at the Ecobank Headquarters in Lagos.
In his welcome remarks, Deputy Director, General Partnership for Partnership and Delivery, IITA, Ken Dashiell, noted that it has become imperative for stakeholders to work together to empower the youth in transforming Nigeria’s Food system. Dashiell said government and other developmental partners must begin to put the right policies and programs in place to attract the youth into agriculture.
In his keynote address, Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, who is also an ambassador of IITA, said that a concerted effort must be made to ensure that the funding gap in agribusiness is bridged, adding that financial institutions, investors and entrepreneurs must collaborate.
Obasanjo noted that the sector must be attractive for the youth, saying no serious entrepreneur would be interested in seeking a double-digit loan.
Also speaking, the Managing Director and Regional Executive of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Bolaji Lawal, explained that the bank is committed to supporting any investment that will stimulate the growth of Nigeria’s economy and transform the opportunities in Nigeria into business and empowerment for the youth.
A beneficiary of the I-Youth project, Areo Evelyn, the Chief Executive Officer of Farm2Fill Enterprises, stated that participating in IITA’s training program greatly impacted her entrepreneurial journey as she now offers a variety of agriculture produce to local and international markets.
Executive Manager, I-Youth Project, Aline Mugisho, who spoke on ‘De-Risking Agro-Industry Investment,’ emphasized the need for stakeholders to work together to demystify the agricultural sector’s myth around profitability, sustainability, and growth.