A civic group, the Golden Heart Foundation (GHF) has visited the Ibadan campus of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), to explore a partnership deal. President of the group, David Ogbueli, led a team to the institute to secure a partnership agreement on youth empowerment.
GHF is focusing on youth value reorientation, leadership, youth empowerment, and entrepreneurial development. It believes that partnering with IITA will foster the development they seek through agriculture.
Emphasizing this, Ogbueli said, “we are strong in national transformation; we want to bring youth out of unemployment and poverty, that’s why we have come to find answers here in IITA.”
Kenton Dashiell, Deputy Director-General, Partnership for Delivery, related IITA’s success story to inspire the team on the possibility of getting youth out of poverty through agriculture. Referring to IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA), he said, “IYA, an innovation of the current IITA DG, is an avenue where youth get experiential learning experiences across all value chains”. This has made youth become actively involved in agribusiness and independent.”
Realizing that IITA had gone past their present phase, the GHF team requested that IITA help draft a proposal and budget for empowering a thousand youth in Ebonyi State, for a start. “The youth would be a mix of graduates, rural youth, and youth who have started their own business”, Ogbueli said.
Dashiell promised to send a concept note including a budget, in two weeks, after a series of discussions, questions, and plans for an IITA team to visit the site for a survey. However, Dashiell advised that the project starts with a 3-year plan as it will be difficult to measure success in one year. This was especially because the team had earlier highlighted that the Ebonyi State Government is interested in the initiative, but there must be a solid independent program before the government can be involved.
Dashiell also introduced the team to the Start Them Early Program (STEP) in IITA, which involves changing the mindset of students from a young age towards agriculture. In response to this, the team requested that IITA attend their 2020 National Youth Summit in Anambra State as a guest speaker, to change the mindset of youth concerning agriculture.
“We look forward to a long-term partnership with IITA so that we can cause a change in Nigeria”, Ogbueli said.