‘‘Most people our age are not attracted to agriculture, probably because it is not very glamorous or the money isn’t very good. A few are interested but are stymied by lack of training, resources, and capital support,” say Bankole Akinyele and Evelyn Ohanwusi, both in their mid-20s, and co-leaders of IITA’s Youth Agripreneurs Program or IYA. “Our vision is to reorient young people in rural areas in Africa toward more productive engagement in agriculture through undertaking activities in agribusiness, service provision, and market-oriented agriculture that also offer benefits to the larger community.
“Our program is based at IITA. Here we get our technical, logistical, and training support as well as a lot of moral support directly from the Director General Dr Nteranya Sanginga and its staff. The farming activities, however, such as planting, harvesting, and marketing are done entirely by us. We produce cassava, banana/plantain, soybean, maize, vegetables, and fish. We also engage with the public and private sectors for our ventures. In 2013, we kicked off an extensive training program and established farms within and outside of IITA. We are happy to see that the IYA concept is already being replicated in other IITA hubs. It is our dream that one day African youths go back to the land that has sustained us, the generations before us, and the generations still to come.’’