Youth from all over Africa came together in the first-ever African Youth Agripreneurs (AYA) Forum held in Ibadan, Nigeria last week.
The forum provided an opportunity for the youth to show their skills, creativity, and innovativeness in agribusiness, and also relate with other youths, development partners, and stakeholders in the sector. The forum served as a platform for aggregating agripreneurs across Africa and escalating the impact of their activities on agriculture and development in the continent.
The forum, hosted by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) at its headquarters, was organized by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in collaboration with IITA, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), the Africa Agribusiness Incubation Network (AAIN), and Africa 2.0.
The AYA Forum targets over 200 youths in Africa who are active in agribusiness or the agriculture sector or related value chains; who are promoting their own innovation for increased production and marketing; who are currently members in a youth network or association, and possess skills to share and disseminate agribusiness information and knowledge; and who have the potential of being a youth mentor and/or incubatee through incubation activities.
The forum comprised a two-day conference/workshop with thematic discussions and presentations of success stories, an Agri-Pitch Entrepreneurship Competition and side events including a mentor and incubator training program that will gave agripreneurs an opportunity to demonstrate and showcase the success and business potential of agribusinesses across Africa.
During the Agri-Pitch Entrepreneurship Competition, participants between the ages of 18-35 pitched their innovations before their peers after which prizes were awarded to three categories of winners. The selected winners received an invitation to the AfDB’s Annual Meetings in India in May 2017 to present their pitches. The overall winner will be presented with a prize by AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina.
During the forum, the agripreneurs were expected to develop and pitch ideas on innovations in agriculture which cover information and communication technology (ICT), production, harvesting and processing, marketing, logistics, research, and financial services, among many other topics.
Also during the workshop, plenary presentations were made by and to the youth, to showcase how they designed solutions addressing the typical challenges facing young people who have ventured into agribusiness.
The two-day forum offered agripreneurs across Africa an opportunity to interact and connect with business and development organizations that could assist in linkages with potential markets as off-takers within and outside Africa.
“IITA will support initiatives that would ensure that the young people in this continent contribute to the transformation of African agriculture through agribusiness and value chain development,” said IITA Director General Nteranya Sanginga.
“The AYA Forum will become a flagship element of AfDB’s key initiative for youth employment in agriculture, the ENABLE Youth Program – Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment,” said Chiji Ojukwu, AfDB’s Agriculture and Agro-Industry Director. This five-year program funded and being championed by AfDB aims to develop the next generation of African entrepreneurs in agriculture. Its overall goal is to contribute to job creation, food security and nutrition, rural income generation, and improved livelihoods for youths in both urban and rural areas.
The AYA Forum also highlighted the Bank’s collaboration and partnership with key institutions such as IITA, African Agribusiness Incubation Fund, Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, and others.
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is a not-for-profit institution that generates agricultural innovations to meet Africa’s most pressing challenges of hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and natural resource degradation.
Working with various partners across Sub-Saharan Africa, IITA improves livelihoods, enhances food and nutrition security, increases employment, and preserves natural resource integrity. IITA is a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a global agriculture research partnership for a food-secure future.