The Support to Integrated Agribusiness Hubs in Nigeria project which aims to open up pathways to business opportunities and decent employment for many rural young men and women in Oyo State was launched on 2 August 2021 in Ibadan.
The project, a sub-component of OYSADA’s Youth in Agribusiness Programme, aims to promote youth employment and entrepreneurship in Oyo State through youth-centred Agribusiness Hubs where entrepreneurship skills, funding and business linkages for agribusiness enterprises can be accessed.
With funding from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and technical input from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the project will leverage facilities at the 250-hectare Oyo State-IITA Agribusiness Incubation Park Centre at Awe to train beneficiaries for agribusiness success.
The first cohort of seventy young men and women beneficiaries were inducted into the project at the launch which was attended by the OYSADA DG Dr Debo Akande.
Beneficiaries will receive two weeks of online instructions before being incubated at the Oyo State-IITA Agribusiness Incubation Park Centre for hands-on training and experiential learning.
Beneficiaries will be exposed to various agricultural value chains including crop and animal production and technology-facilitated agriculture through collaborations with the AfDB-supported Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) and other private sector partners including Upepsia Place and Songhai Farms.
Speaking at the event, Dr Akande said the efforts of Governor Seyi Makinde’s administration towards transforming the moribund Rural Community Development Centre, Awe to the current world-class Oyo State-IITA Agribusiness Incubation Park has provided the platform for the project.
“The Oyo State government has built the hard infrastructure,” Dr Akande remarked. “[The State government] has built an integrated energy system and rebuilt the hostel that was dilapidated.
“We have provided support for the security and fencing of the location and, beyond that, the Oyo State government has also dug boreholes for different enterprises to be able to take place.
“We have invested in crop production in massive hectares of land within that place. The moribund palm plantation and the cashew plantation have been resuscitated by the State government while IITA has been able to support through the development of different enterprises within the location.”
In line with the inclusive model of OYSADA’s youth-focused projects, the Lead Management Person, Oyo State-IITA Agribusiness Incubation Park Centre, Dr Chrys Akem revealed beneficiaries will be given start-up grants to establish businesses in areas of their training.
“When you train the youth and they don’t have the start-up grants, that training may not go very far,” Dr Akem observed. “So, within the project, we will try as much as possible to provide some kind of start-up grants to enable the youths to start up the enterprises for which they have been trained.”
Several beneficiaries expressed delight at the opportunity to gain life-changing skills that position them to become employers of labour and well-placed to enter the professional agriculture jobs market and find employment with the private sector.
A beneficiary, Salako Oluwabukola Elizabeth, said: “I feel happy and very opportune to be among the seventy picked.”
“Knowing that about twenty-two thousand applied and I was picked as one of the seventy pioneer beneficiaries is a rare privilege and I want to appreciate IFAD for this golden opportunity,” another beneficiary, Adejo Simeon Abdul said.
The IFAD-Agrihub Coordinator, Ibironke Ifedayo praised the Oyo State government for providing the platform for the project.
“I would like to thank the Oyo state government for birthing a vision that is very rare and needed at this time and this age,” he said.