The gains of the Oyo State Youth Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness Project (YEAP) being implemented by the Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA) continues apace as 300 brand new youth agribusiness entrepreneurs were birthed following the conclusion of their training at the CSS Integrated Farms Limited, Gora, Nasarawa State.

The newly minted youth entrepreneurs marked the completion of their training at a graduation ceremony held on Friday at the International Skills Acquisition Centre (ISAC), Gora, Nasarawa State that had the Oyo State governor HE Seyi Makinde and Dr Debo Akande, the OYSADA DG in attendance.

The 300 trainees underwent an intensive three-week training course at CSS Integrated Farms Limited – one of Nigeria’s leading agribusiness companies – under the expert guidance of 15 renowned agribusiness specialists. 

The trainees received coaching in good agricultural practices (GAP), leadership in agribusiness, irrigation farming, Information/Communication Technology application in agribusiness, fishery farming and management, hydroponics farming, cassava and rice value chains and poultry farming, among others. 

The training aligns with YEAP’s objectives to provide the technical knowledge, entrepreneurial and business skills required for youth ages 20-35 in Oyo State to exploit emerging opportunities across the entire agricultural value chain and to establish successful agribusiness enterprises. 

The YEAP initiative is a sub-project of OYSADA’s Youth in Agribusiness Programme which aims to leverage partnerships with development partners, private sector actors and financial agencies to remove the many hurdles youth including women face in trying to earn a livelihood from agribusiness 

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Governor Makinde who was given an award of recognition by the chairman, CSS Integrated Farms, Professor John Kennedy Opara, encouraged the 300 YEAP beneficiaries to leverage their training to set up agribusiness enterprises in Oyo State while assuring them of his administration’s continued support. 

Governor Makinde reiterated his commitment to ensuring improved social outcomes for Oyo State’s youth through entrepreneurship development projects that link them with access to agricultural resources, credit facilities, improved technologies, practical skills, markets as well as other services for agribusiness success.

In that regard, Governor Makinde announced that YEAP which was originally set to empower 3,300 youth will now facilitate the training of 10,000 Oyo State youth (30 per cent female) at the CSS Integrated Farms over the next year. 

“Gone are those days when politicians use the youths as political thugs and then abandon them to become burdens to society. We want to empower youths in the real sense of empowerment so that you all can empower others and thereby lift Oyo State from poverty to prosperity,” Governor Makinde said. 

“We were going to train 1,000 youths but when I got the brief and I came to Saki and saw the youths, I said we should increase that number to 3,300. That is 100 per local government. 

“Look, we are here to support you. We will look for markets for things you will produce. Go ahead and incorporate yourselves. The state will support you by giving you the necessary ingredients to succeed.”

Governor Makinde remarked that the 300 new agribusiness entrepreneurs are now in a position to contribute to the transformation of the economy of Oyo State. 

“I listened to Prof. John Kennedy Opara’s analysis that if each of you can start with day-old chicks at N230 per bird and you have 1,000 birds; that is just about N240,000, which is about the money for one motorcycle. 

“If you sell those birds, you can generate up to a million each in six months. If 10,000 youths can leverage this kind of advantage, that means the state can become a N100 Billion economy in a few years, in just this sphere of endeavour,” Governor Makinde added. 

On his part, Dr Akande said the YEAP initiative will enhance young people’s ability to become actors in modern agricultural value chains that are responsive to market demands. 

Dr Akande praised CSS for collaborating with OYSADA and revealed that the Oyo State government has set up a facility to provide the 300 new agribusiness entrepreneurs with start-up grants to establish sustainable agribusiness enterprises. 

“Within the next one week, you will know the enterprise you will engage in. Your training was fully sponsored by the state government, but we have a facility with Fidelity Bank that will enable you to start well, perform optimally and if you move up the ladder, there will be other support,” Dr Akande said. 

A YEAP beneficiary, OgundiranOmosalewa, lauded the initiative and praised the Governor for providing them with real opportunities to partake in and contribute to the economy of Oyo State. 

“Our politicians used to empower youths with okada, but Governor Makinde brought us here where we were exposed to world-class training in different areas of agriculture and agribusiness.

“We are assuring His Excellency that when we return to Oyo State, we are going to make an impact and will begin to contribute to the growing IGR of the state,”Omosalewa remarked.

With OYSADA’s goal of making Oyo State Nigeria’s number one agribusiness hub, youth-focused human capacity development programmes like YEAP ensure a motivated and well-trained workforce optimised to exploit opportunities being opened up by the government’s intensive hard infrastructure projects including roads, agribusiness industrial hubs and other agribusiness-enabling infrastructure. 

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