Cote d’Ivoire, Africa’s largest cocoa producer, has sent a delegation to Nigeria to understudy the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Youth Agripreneur (IYA) Model, as part of efforts to revamp its agriculture and address its growing youth unemployment, IITA said today.

The 10-man delegation understudying the IYA model was led by Karitia Caulibaly, Deputy Director of Cabinet, Ministry of Youth Employment. The team wants to get firsthand knowledge of IYA, as the country prepares to sign up to the African Development Bank’s funded program on youth in agriculture titled: ENABLE Youth.

The IYA model is a job creation and mind-set changing program aimed at attracting young men and women to agriculture by exposing them to the opportunities in the agriculture value chain, while at the same time providing training and mentorship to the youngsters.

Initiated in 2012 by the Director General of IITA, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, the IYA model came to limelight after it successfully drew young people to agriculture with some of them establishing their own businesses and creating decent jobs for themselves. The initiative is currently being supported by the African Development Bank under the bank’s ENABLE-Youth program.

IITA director general, Dr Sanginga said the IYA model was established as a means of creating a career path for unemployed young people in agriculture by training, coaching and mentoring the youths to embrace agriculture as an income generating option. He added that the successes recorded from the IYA model was recognized by other institutions including the AfDB and had been adopted for replication and expansion through projects like ENABLE-Youth.

The Head of Youth in Agribusiness Office, Ms. Evelyn Ohanwusi said the training received under IYA had transformed many young people with many of them migrating from being job seekers to job creators. She added that some of the young people had established independent agribusiness enterprises which are providing jobs for several other youths.

The ENABLE Youth Coordinator in Cote d’Ivoire, Guy-Herve Pillah, while giving an update on the ongoing activities of ENABLE Youth program in that country said the team had selected sites that would serve as incubation centers for the beneficiaries of the program. “The renovation of the sites to suit the purposes of the program would commence in earnest,” Pillah added.

The Cote d’Ivoire delegation also visited some IYA business spin-offs in Ibadan and Abuja.

In Abuja, the team was delighted over the progress made by Onyeka Okaro, the Chief Executive Officer of Yeka Farms. Yeka Farms is located in Apo, a suburb in the Federal Capital Territory. Giving a background into the start of the business, Okaro explained that during his incubation  period between 2016 and 2017 at IITA, he saved money from the stipend earned to establish Yeka farm. To further expand his business, he developed a business plan and applied for funding under the ENABLE-TAAT program which was approved after adequate scrutiny.

“The training I had during my incubation period was sufficient as it was experiential. It was both on the field and practical in approach. The content was technical and covered business management and ICTs. I did not have an agricultural background when I joined the program but today, I run my farm myself. I hope this will inspire one more person to take up farming. I will use the new funds to expand my farm and diversify into fish smoking,” he said.

Okaro also revealed that he had placed an order for an automated fish smoking kiln from the Nigeria Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research.