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The African Development Bank (AfDB), in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), successfully organized the ENABLE (Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment) Youth Program Design Workshop on April 21-22, 2016 in Abuja, Nigeria. The workshop brought together key stakeholders from governments across the continent, international development partners, agribusiness companies, finance institutions and women and youth groups. Youth employment in agriculture was at the centre of the discussions.
The objective of the workshop was to provide a well-grounded evidence-based understanding of the program concept by sharing experiences and lessons learned in promoting youth entrepreneurship and employment in agriculture on the continent. The workshop was attended by 240 participants from more than 30 countries, including over 70 young “agripreneurs” (young men and women engaged in agriculture and agribusiness). It featured keynote speakers including eight Ministers of Agriculture and Youth Employment, Chiji Ojukwu, Director, Agriculture and Agro-Industries Department, AfDB; Nteranya Sanginga, IITA Director General; Abimbola Adebakin, Chief Operating Officer, Tony Elumelu Foundation; Mark Kofi Fynn, Adviser, African Union Commission; and Aliyu Hameed, Managing Director, NIRSAL.
In his video address shown during the opening session, AfDB President Akinwumi A. Adesina stated that “the future of African agriculture lies in agriculture as a business and the creation of a new generation of young farmers and agribusiness owners.”
The two-day workshop consisted of an opening session with key presentations and panel discussions on: agribusiness value chains, business incubation and training platforms, innovative and affordable financing mechanisms, marketing, and impact assessment. A break-out session allowed participants to discuss the creation of an enabling environment for the program, the implementation arrangements, the program sustainability and exit strategy. The closing session synthesized the workshop findings and recommendations.
The young “agripreneurs” shared the inspiring stories of how they set up their agribusinesses, described some of the challenges they faced and gave clues to their success stories. This will help fine-tune the ENABLE Youth program design by the incorporation of proven Africa-wide best practices. The workshop established a general consensus that the ENABLE Youth program is a powerful mechanism for boosting youth employment in agribusiness.
This landmark initiative to get Africa Feeding Africa is expected to unleash the vast potentials of Africa’s youth and help the continent in its bid to become self-sufficient in food production. The next step will be for the AfDB in collaboration with IITA and other relevant partners to develop and roll out country-specific ENABLE Youth programs in the Bank’s regional member countries, which have expressed interest.