The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), is partnering with the Mastercard Foundation in Nigeria, to train 242,724 youths on fulfilling work opportunities in the agrifood value chain.
Evelyn Ohanwusi, Training Coordinator, Young Africa Works-IITA, said this in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.
The training, through the IITA’s Youth in Agribusiness office over the next five years, would focus on building innovative skills and inclusive agri-food systems for young people between the ages 15 and 35.
Ohanwusi said the project would apply special approaches to empower young women in Northern Nigeria while considering cultural sensitivities.
According to her, the project will support the youths to secure employment or be self-employ through entrepreneurship in Kaduna, Kano and Lagos states over the next five years.
“The project will leverage and scale existing IITA youth initiatives, including the Start Them Early Programme (STEP).
“STEP is a mechanism that improves agricultural instruction in secondary schools in a manner that better directs career paths toward modern agriculture and agribusiness.
“Partnerships with the Commissioners of Education in each of the focus states will lead to a massive out-scaling of the STEP programme,’’ the coordinator stated.
She said that in collaboration with the Enterprise Development Centre’s online learning platform, the digital STEP programme, delivered through Young Africa Works, was expected to revolutionise agriculture teaching in public schools across Nigeria.
“The programme will also scale access to vocational education for marginalised young people.
“The project will be implemented with several partners and the state governments.
“Youth-sensitive loan and agribusiness support programmes will be developed with financial institutions that recognise the specialised needs of young people, especially women, as agricultural borrowers,’’ Ohanwusi stated.
She, however, said that the programme would aim to reduce the risks associated with young people obtaining credit for agricultural investment purposes.
“Our partners are well-positioned to provide the training, placement and agribusiness support services required in the three target states of Nigeria.
“This optimal mix of partners would ensure that the project approaches reflect the special attention that the Young Africa Works strategy places on young women.
“The partnership aims to enable Young Africa Works, developed in consultation with young people, policymakers, educators and entrepreneurs.
“This was Mastercard Foundation’s strategy that would enable 30 million young people in Africa, to access dignified and fulfilling work over the next 10 years.’’
In Nigeria, she said, Young Africa Works aimed to see 10 million young Nigerians, the majority young women, in work opportunities by 2030.
“Agriculture is at the heart of Africa’s economic transformation, it will profoundly define the future of work especially in agriculture – production, processing, financing, packaging and marketing.’’
She quoted Chidinma Lawanson, Nigeria Country Head at Mastercard Foundation as saying: “We’re focusing on agriculture in Nigeria because we see these opportunities and we will work with partners like IITA to make them visible to young people’’.