Youth Minister from Côte d’Ivoire impressed with IITA Youth Agripreneurs
The Minister for Promotion of Youth, Youth Employment, and Civic Engagement of Côte d’Ivoire, The Hon. Sidi Tiémoko Toure, has remarked that the IITA Youth Agripreneur program in Tanzania is impressive and that he is convinced that agriculture holds great potential for tackling youth unemployment in Africa.
The Minister said this during his recent visit to the IITA Eastern Africa (EA) hub in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to learn about the Institute’s Agripreneur program which engages youth in agribusiness.
The government of Côte d’Ivoire is establishing a similar program this year under the Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment (ENABLE) youth program funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and led by IITA as a major partner. The visit was therefore an opportunity for the team to learn first-hand from the IITA-Tanzania youth Agripreneurs.
During the visit, Hon. Toure toured the IITA-EA hub offices at Mikocheni, Dar es Salaam, and the Kwembe Youth Excellence center, approximately 50 km south of Dar es Salaam where the youth carry out their agribusiness enterprises. These include production of animal feed, keeping of poultry (layers and broilers), rearing of rabbits, processing of cassava into high quality cassava flour, and fish farming.
“The opportunity for agriculture to address the problem of youth unemployment and securing food for the rest of the population is immense. These are the two common challenges we are facing in many countries here in Africa. There are so many businesses we can create along the value chains that the youth can engage in,” he added.
The Hon. Minister and his party were received by a team from IITA-EA hub composed of Adebayo Abass, Value Chain Specialist, and Regina Kapinga, IITA Head of Advocacy and Resource Mobilization, who are also the youth mentors, and the youth Agripreneurs. Also present were Eveline Odiambo, Regional Administrator, Edith Kazimoto, Senior Human Resources Officer; and Eveline Massam, Communication Assistant.
According to Kapinga one of the challenges facing the youth as they try to engage in agribusiness is lack of access to loans and funds due to tough financial requirements. This in turn limits the youth’s prospects to grow and expand their businesses, hence, the need to involve many stakeholders and especially policy makers.
The Minister said his ministry had already selected the first 20 youth drawn from various regions in the country to undergo business incubation. He also said the Ministry would like IITA to provide guidance and technical backstopping. He was also keen on the youth in Côte d’Ivoire to visit and spend time with the team in Tanzania and Nigeria to learn hands-on skills and be inspired.