By Emmanuel Elebeke
FOR four young Nigerian agri-business entrepreneurs, Ikpegbu Tochukwu, Nonso Okafor, Wale Chase and Adesope Samuel, the first Harambe agri-business competition award day will remain ever green in their lives. Reason? It was the day they were rewarded with a monetary award of N7.5 million and training with the EDS, Fate Foundation and Ideabuilders towards building their agro initiatives.
The awards came after their emergence as winners in a keenly contested competition. They came tops out of 70 youths who submitted applications for the competition handled by Harambe Nigeria.
Ikpeegbu Tochukwu who hails from Umuahia, Abia State came first in a focus area of expanding a piggery farm currently owned by Emmanuel Farms; Nonso Okafor was second with focus area on a new fish farm in Anambra State; Adeoye Olukayode also came second with focus on arable crop production and Adesope Samuel came third with focus on full service farm with special interest on bees rearing.
The gesture, according to Harambe, was part of its intervention and mobilisation strategy to empower Nigerian youths to develop innovative solutions in Nigeria ’s agricultural sector by providing them with the necessary tools, network and exposure that will enable them translate their ideas into actions.
The ceremony also served as an intimate occasion for participants of the business competition to converse with Harambe’s supporters about their ideas and showcase their ideas and share same with like minds.
The short-listed candidates for the competition were young people between the ages of 21 and 35.
The competition was said to have received over 70 entries in a wide array of agricultural activities, including commercial production of broilers and turkey, wholesale production of catfish, a locally fabricated system called Agro-waste processor for management of agro waste, bio-fertiliser production and generation of methane gas for cooking, lightening and electricity for its users. Others were fish farming consultancy, urban agriculture through the use of vertical farming houses/homes in Lagos, vertical farming (multi-storey), roof farming, floor farming, maintenance services, home farm and produce retailing.
In order to ensure that the winning ideas are successfully implemented and sustained, Harambe Nigeria said it will follow up the financial reward with extensive training at renowned institutions such as the EDS and the Fate Foundation. The winning entrepreneurs according to the organisation, will equally receive mentorship and their financial reward will be managed at specific banks to ensure that they are directed towards the initiative. The winners were also presented with certificate of award.
The President, Tola Sunmonu, said “We are looking for innovative and sustainable ideas from young upstart entrepreneurs as well as established entrepreneurs with a maximum of one year’s work experience. This year, Harambe Nigeria’s annual symposium will make the necessary transition from raising much needed awareness, to facilitating youth involvement in the sector and supporting those already engaged.
“This year’s event will mark the culmination of our six-month agri-business plan competition,” Sunmonu said.
The judges included Mosunmola Umoru of Honeysuckles PTL, Tosin Anibaba of the Fatre Foundation, Lucy Kanu of Ideabuilders, an agriculture NGO and Peter Bankole, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Development Services (EDS) at the Pan-African University.
In addition to presenting the winners with training and financial support, all participants were allowed to take part in a two day training session. A team of trained experts from the industry worked on their ideas.
This third annual Harambe Symposium on Youth and Development had the theme: “Watering the Seeds of Tomorrow” with focus on providing young agric-entrepreneurs with the opportunities to build and expand their ventures.
To crown the event, Harambe Nigeria hosted a cocktail reception for friends and supporters and guests were offered the opportunity to browse through the posters on display as well as interact with the aspiring entrepreneurs.
“We are aware of the immense potential that Harambe Nigeria’s third annual symposium has to revolutionise the way Nigerian youths engage with the Agricultural sector,” she said.