Uplifting more youth-led innovation in African agriculture through the AYA Forum

From the 25th to the 26th of April, over 200 young agriprenuers from across Africa gathered in Ibadan, Nigeria for a landmark event, tagged African Youth Agriprenuers (AYA) Forum organised by the Africa Agribusiness Incubators Network in close partnership with the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), Africa 2.0, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

Youth and guest speakers who attended the first African Youth Agriprenuers Forum in Ibadan, Nigeria from the 25th to the 26th of April.The Forum’s main events were preceded by a partners’ pre-event led by CTA that prepared the youth for the pitching competition, especially on packaging the best possible presentations for the judges to select from.

The opener of the AYA Forum was facilitated in speech, by among others, Nteranya Sanginga the Director General of IITA and Ken Lohento who is the ICT for Agriculture Programme Coordinator for the Brussels-based CTA.

AAIN was represented by Abimbola Adebakin, the Director for the African Agribusiness Incubation Fund (AAIF) joined by incubator managers and selected graduate incubatees, among them Sam Turyatunga of the Uhuru Fruit Drinks Brand who made it to the top five participants in the AgriPitch Competition.

At the same event, experiences in agribusiness incubation as a factor behind increased job creation, industrialisation and value addition were shared by Prof Charles Kwesiga, Executive Director of the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI), one of the oldest agribusiness incubation centres in Africa.

Enhancing a more attractive sector 

In his remarks, CTA’s Ken Lohento called on partners and sector players to make agriculture even more attractive for the youth in Africa.

“We must make agriculture more attractive for the youth. The promotion of the use of ICT and ICT-based innovations for agriculture.” – Ken Lohento, CTA.

This call was supplemented by highlights from speakers’ presentations including Elisabetta Demartis of the Agritools Initiative, a research journalism project that aims to understand how ICT is transforming agriculture, fishing and livestock practices in Africa.

As a major initiative in empowering the youth in agribusiness, the AfDB’s Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment, ENABLE Youth Programme was presented and explored for participants by Edson Mpyisi, a Principal Agricultural Economist with the Bank.

Some of the youth and facilitators who attended the pre-event session and agri-pitch competition led by CTA.

Youth Focus

The Forum which was held at the IITA Conference Hall in Ibadan, Nigeria is the first of its kind under this partnership and comes within a year from the publishing of the 5th October Accra Declaration of the Youth on Agribusiness Incubation in Africa in which the youth called for such platforms that uplift their creativity and innovation.

The youth are at the centre of their own development in the agribusiness sub sector today. It is this kind of partnership with the AfDB, IITA, Africa 2.0 and CTA that will make it much more possible for the youth to be actively involved in job creation through agribusiness in Africa. We will go beyond this to host even more youth at the Africa Youth in Agribusiness Day on the 5th of October in Dakar, Senegal, joined by these partners and more pushing this agenda together.” – Dr Alex Ariho, CEO of AAIN.

The top three youth from the Agri-Pitch Entrepreneurship Competition are set to travel to India for the AfDB meetings this month.

The AYA Forum was also highlighted by the launch of the ICT for Agriculture Guide for ACP countries by CTA.

As a whole, the events of the 2017 AYA Forum were guided by the theme, “Demonstrating Success of Agribusiness in Job and Wealth Creation in Africa.”