Targeting youths for farming

Source: The Nation

Since 2017, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has been harping on the upward swing in the number of youths that are not in employment, education or training (NEET). It said there were 259 million young people classified as NEET – a number that rose to an estimated 267 million in 2019, and is projected to continue climbing to around 273 million this year.

“Not enough jobs are being created for these young people,” said Chief of the Employment and Labour Market Policies of the ILO Employment Policy Department, Sukti Dasgupta.

“Not enough jobs are being created for young people, meaning that the potential of millions is not being properly tapped,”said Dasgupta.

In Africa, organisations are deploying agribusiness to provide jobs for young people and help countries achieve development goals. Trainings that link young people to climate-smart agricultural practices and profitable new agribusinesses are underway in several countries. The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture’s (IITA)) and the African Development Bank are through ENABLE Youth Programme helping 200 youths from 30 African countries to learn about agribusiness, new agricultural skills and technologies, climate change, mechanisation and agricultural value chain approaches. In Nigeria, British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) launched the Farmers for the Future (F4F) grant aimed at giving young people the opportunity to access funds for viable agricultural enterprises.

The organisers said the scheme, a yearly competition organised for final year students of Agriculture in tertiary institutions and fresh graduates in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), seeks to promote agriculture among young people and turn their creative ideas to successful and sustainable agribusinesses.

“Interested candidates that are eligible for the competition develop creative agribusiness proposals and submit by responding to an online Expression of Interest.

Shortlisted finalists present their ideas during an interview with the Project Management Committee (PMC) and the best three candidates are selected and presented to the public at an awards. Thereafter, the winners are provided with technical and financial support to establish their agricultural enterprises after their National Youth Service. In addition to the prize, the scheme provides technical support in capacity building programmes. The second season of its Farmers for the Future (F4F) project, is starting.

The programme is targeting serving National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members, aged 18 and above, and is part of BATNF’s drive to encourage and support young Nigerians in sustainable agriculture.

BATNF is committing N16 million in cash and support for the grants. This includes the award of N3 million as first cash prize, N2 million as second, and N1 million as third.

Other benefits that will accrue to the winners include technical support to establish their agribusiness; participation in an intensive “Think-through-your-business” boot camp; mentorship under seasoned entrepreneurs and agriculture experts; and opportunities for follow-on financing/or credit facilities from financial institutions and investors. Winners will also enjoy membership of the F4F alumni network, participation in other partner-driven training and support with business registration as well as other legal and regulatory requirements.

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