The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development ,Dr Akinwumi Adesina , has predicted that Africa’s future millionaires and billionaires will make their money from agriculture as the governments marshal out plans to unlock wealth from the soil.
He spoke Friday in Abuja as the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) launched the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program Phase 1 (ATASP-1) in Abuja.
The ATASP-1 is financed by AfDB to the tune of USD 170 million and aims at creating additional incomes to an increased number of producers and entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector in Nigeria by providing about 120,000 jobs along the value chain of priority commodities. An additional 20 million tons of key commodity food crops including cassava, rice, and sorghum will be added to the domestic food supply each year.
A significant part of the project is developing outreach models with young entrepreneurs in agriculture, “IITA youth agripreneurs”. This component will be implemented by IITA which has established a Youth Agripreneurs scheme at its Headquarters in Ibadan, Oyo State, and in DR Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia. The Agripreneurs are promoting agriculture among other young people in their regions through peer education, training and demonstration of agricultural best practices, and business skills in value chain development.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria, Dr Akinwumi Adesina underlined that “Africa’s future millionaires and billionaires will make their money from agriculture,” as the governments marshal out plans to unlock wealth from the soil. Adesina , who is among the five candidates already shortlisted to contest the presidency of the African Development Bank in May, estimates that the bulk of this new wealthy population will be made up of young people adept at creating jobs for millions in each African country and bringing business opportunities to rural communities all across the continent. The Minister further enjoined the youth to stop seeing agriculture as a tool for development but as a business.
Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, IITA’s Director General said during the launch that all over Africa, many young people are migrating to cities in search of business opportunities, leaving behind an increasingly ageing population.
He added “The challenge is to create business opportunities for productive activity in agriculture and non-farm enterprises. This project aims to build on the youth model developed in IITA to change mindsets of young men and women and gainfully engage them in agriculture.”
AfDB’s Chief Country Program Coordinator, Andoh Mensah, explained that the project would capitalize on IITA’s participatory approach and would train and retrain young men and women along the commodity value chains. According to him, the ATASP-1 is part of the Bank’s efforts in contributing to the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of the Government of Nigeria, which aims to create 3.5 million jobs along key crop value chains.