In accelerating SDG2. zero hunger and youth employment and engagement in agriculture in Nigeria and Africa, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in partnership with the Dutch government, launched a youth initiative, Enabling Scaling of Innovative Technologies for Sustainable Food (YAS), with representatives from the Nigerian government, diplomats, policymakers and leaders of industries in attendance at the institute’s station in Abuja, Nigeria.
The YAS Project launch kicked off with CGIAR and Partners exhibition of agricultural and digital products and innovations/Open Day on the first day of the program, 19 October 2023.
The project is implemented with Bopinc for inclusive innovation and agribusiness models, marketing, and distribution tailored to youth needs. It contributes directly to the development of an integrated, sustainable food system that aims to increase the production of healthy, sufficient food through the creation of jobs, which aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goal SDG 2 hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture, and extends to SDG 1, SDG 5, and SDG 12.
In his welcome address, Director General of IITA and CGIAR Regional Director for Africa, Simeon Ehui, emphasized the need for tackling the climate crisis, which requires a coordinated effort involving farmers, policymakers, researchers, civil society, donors and funders, the diplomatic community, and the private sector. “By bringing together diverse stakeholders, we can foster dialogue, share knowledge, and co-create solutions that address the complex challenge, which is why we are all here together today, as partners and collaborators of the YAS project,” he said.
Ehui thanked the Dutch government for investing in such an impactful venture. “At IITA, we have seen what happens when youths are supported and engaged productively,” he added.
The role of youth, especially young women, as drivers of sustainable and inclusive agriculture sector transformation cannot be over-emphasized as YAS would target 10,000 youths aged between 18 and 35 in four states in Nigeria: Kano, FCT, Oyo, and Ogun States.
Representing the Presidency, Marion Moon, Technical Advisor on Agriculture to Nigeria’s Vice President, reiterated the government’s commitment towards agriculture and how the youths are involved, “with these assumptions, I would like to plant some seeds for further conversation; how do we synergize some of the various programs and ideas that are currently running to enable both the public and private sector work together to accelerate desired impact, create a level-playing field for individuals and organizations to ensure everyone is able to access opportunities and translate climate change, innovations and technologies to a language or product for better understanding to those at the base of the pyramid to ensure that the food systems are sustained” she said.
Wouter Plomp, Kingdom of Netherlands Ambassador to Nigeria, in a keynote address and official launch of the YAS project, says the project’s goal is to combat food insecurity in Nigeria by empowering the youths. He believes that the collaboration would increase productivity, access to finance, and improve both marketing and distribution.
Other participants at the launch include the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, the Head of Chancery/first Secretary, Indian Hugh Commission to Nigeria, the African Development Bank, Eco Bank, FAO Nigeria, Bopinc Nigeria, and Nigeria’s former president, who gave a brief speech virtually about agri-business and youth empowerment in agriculture.
Contributed by Dajie Odok