By Yinka Kolawole
AFRICAN Development Bank (AfDB) in collaboration with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), Africa Agribusiness Incubation Network (AAIN), and Africa 2.0, recently hosted youth from all over Africa for the first-ever African Youth Agripreneurs (AYA) Forum in Ibadan. Africa 2.0 is a Pan-African Civil Society Organisation made up of a community of emerging and established African leaders who are committed to finding and implementing sustainable solutions that will drive forward the transformation of the continent.
Innovativeness in agribusiness
The AYA forum hosted by IITA 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. According to AfDB: “The AYA Forum targets over 200 youths in Africa who are active in agribusiness, 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 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 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. During the forum, the agripreneurs developed and pitched 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.
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. “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.