4th July 2017, signifies a remarkable day in the fight against youth unemployment especially for graduates of Agriculture in Nigeria as Youth Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture (YISA) Signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Association of Deans of Agriculture in Nigeria Universities (ADAN) on the implementation of a technical corporation programme called Agripreneurship Incubation and Mentorship (AIM) programme.
The AIM programme designed for the students of Faculties and colleges of Agriculture in Nigeria tertiary institutions is set to build the capacity of the students in practical agribusiness skills, linking the students to mentors while creating agribusiness hubs within the school environment in order to create successive generation of active players for sustainable Agriculture in Nigeria upon graduation.
Young people are generally known to have very low interest in Agriculture, this is not unconnected with the way Agriculture was treated after the discovery of Oil in Nigeria. However, with the renew political will for economic diversification through Agriculture, it will be a serious disaster if young people continue to shy away from Agriculture in terms of job creating, food security and commodity value addition because we need qualified active labour force to drive the process.
The Founder and National Coordinator of YISA-Nigeria, Mr. Ogirinye Innocent stated that the AIM Programme is created to address some very critical issues in the Agriculture sector of Nigeria and is institutionally focused on the students and graduates of Agriculture in Nigeria Universities. Some of the programmes includes changing the mind-set of the youth to see and treat Agriculture as business, expose Agriculture students to practical agribusiness skills through the Incubation Models farms to be established in the Faculties and colleges of Agriculture as well organised technical Exchange Programme for the students, delivers complementary extension services to smallholder farmers within the 100km radius of every faculties and colleges of Agriculture using the 4th Agricultural Extension students and most important engage with the relevant stakeholders to establish Agricultural Graduates Trust Fund (AGTF) in Nigeria.
I can tell you categorically that the major challenges of young people willing to venture into Agriculture is the start-up capital and lack of appropriate technical skills require to run successful agribusiness enterprises, because the Financial Institutions are not willing to fund starts up and even when you meet their lending criteria, you cannot survive with the commercial interest rate of 18-25% to run a successful Agribusiness that is just kicking off, stated Mr. Kelechi Onyeaka, the Deputy National Coordinator and Director of YISA Rural Farm School who alongside with the National Director of Capacity Building of YISA Ms Okpete Esther and Ibrahim Abdulraman, the Adamawa State Coordinator were on ground to witness the MoU Signing Ceremony.
Shortly after the MoU was signed at the University of Benin, Edo State, the President of ADAN, Professor F.M David Abraham stated that the Deans of Agriculture cutting across 50 universities under the auspices of ADAN have no doubt that AIM programme has been created at a time the Faculties have decided to contribute their quote to break the monolithic economy of Nigeria through Agriculture and that forms the Theme of the on-going 61st AGM of ADAN in our renewed commitment to participate actively in the economic diversification programme of the Government.
AIM is created for Students and graduates of Agriculture as well as any young person with genuine interest in Agriculture and the programme shall be unveiled in 12 Universities in 2017 and more as we move forward in the implementation process.