Agriculture: Experts harp on innovations for youths at IITA forum

Some experts in the agriculture sector have called for the intensification of innovations targeting youths in order to reduce food insecurity and importation in the country.

They made the call in Ibadan on Thursday at the 2019 International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Youth Agripreneurs International Youth Day with the theme ” Transforming Education.”

The Chief Executive Officer, Business Incubation Platform, IITA, Dr Fredrick Schreurs, said with technology, Nigeria can boost Soybeans yield from one tonne to two tonnes in 2019 and increase this to between three and five tonnes per hectare in three years.

Schreurs said that youth engagement would pave way for sustainable growth in the agriculture sector.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the programme was organised to commemorate the International Youth Day celebrated on Aug. 12 annually.

“We take technology coming from IITA and disseminate them to the markets; in line with this, we create jobs for youth agripreneurs.

“We are doing outgrowers programmes with some companies, including Nestle and Guinness.

“Presently, we don’t have outgrowers programmes for Soybeans because, in Nigeria, the average yield is low at between 0.8 to 1.2 tonnes.

“So, we created multi-stakeholders cooperation with Nigerian Soybean Association, Ministry of Agriculture, Soybeans Supply Chain and private companies in the business of Soybeans breeding and releasing varieties which have recorded higher yield.

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“We have introduced pesticides companies in relation with IITA weed programmes and the Business Incubation Platform because the next stage is that we will include youth outgrowers programme,” Schreurs said.

Similarly, Nestle, Country Human Resources Manager, Mr Sola Akinyosoye, said celebrating the 2019 International Youth Day was important to draw the attention of youths to available opportunities in agriculture.

He said Nestle, through its ‘Nestle Needs Youths’ initiative, is focused on how to create job opportunities and empowerment for the youth.

“We do this around three pillars; one of them is employment and employability. We provide for people to get job graduate training because we know that part of the challenges is that some graduates are not employable.

“So, we ensure that we train, equip and give support for young Nigerians so they can be self-employed and get employment with us or other companies,” Akinyosoye said.

On her part, Mrs Miriam Samekpolo, Outgrowers Vegetable Manager, IITA, stated that through the programmes, thousands of youths across the country have been empowered to be self-reliant.

“What we do here is to multiply different types of pepper and look for ones that suit the taste of our customers.

“Most importantly, we are able to identify youths who are interested in production while trying to encourage them to go into agriculture.

“Presently, we are working in some states. We have youths in Ogun and Oyo States. We are also working with Kano and Kaduna States.

“We intend to cover all states in Nigeria,” Samekpolo said.

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