On Monday, March 27, 2017, the Nigerian Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, officially inaugurated the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program, Phase 1 (ATASP-1) Youth Training Center located on the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) premises in Kubwa, Abuja. He also kicked off the National Agribusiness Youth Training on seed production and processing technology.
The centre aims to promote the creation of additional incomes to an increased number of producers and entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector in Nigeria by providing about 120,000 jobs along the value chain of priority commodities. An additional 20 million tons of key commodity food crops including cassava, rice, and sorghum will be added to the domestic food supply each year. The first phase of the project will provide training to 200 youth farmers.
A significant outcome of the project will be the development of outreach models with young entrepreneurs in agriculture – “IITA Youth Agripreneurs”. This component will be implemented by IITA which has established a Youth Agripreneur scheme at its headquarters in Ibadan, Oyo State, and also in Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia. The Agripreneurs serve as ambassadors of agriculture among other young people in their regions through peer education, training and demonstration of agricultural best practices, and business skills in value chain development.
A goodwill message delivered on behalf of the AfDB Nigeria Senior Director, Ebrima Faal, reiterated the Bank’s support to agriculture in Nigeria, in line with the Government’s Agriculture Promotion Policy (APP: 2016 – 2020) which is building on the successes of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA). He added that the support was aligned to the Bank Group’s “High 5” priorities especially the “Feed Africa” Strategy for Agricultural Transformation in Africa (2016 – 2025).
The Minister urged Youth Agripreneurs to remain steadfast in their mission to promote agriculture. He also highlighted the priority crops for the current administration, which in addition to staple crops, will also focus on export oriented value chains (such as cashew, cocoa, etc.) in view of the need to diversify the economy, given the current low oil prices.