Foundation system

IITA partners with the Mastercard Foundation to boost youth participation in agriculture

Gilbert Ekugbe

The Innovative Youth in Agriculture (I-Youth) project implemented by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) IITA in partnership with Mastercard Foundation Young Africa Works is expected to boost the active participation of young people in agricultural development, said the IITA.

According to IITA and MasterCard Foundation, the project is extending agribusiness training to secondary school students in Kano, Kaduna and Lagos State.

In a statement posted on the IITA website, I-Youth, through the Start Them Early Program (STEP) component of the project, over the past 18 months has devised several approaches to engage students. various activities organized for them to learn about modern agriculture in schools and identify career opportunities in the sector.

The statement said STEP in I-Youth has embraced the hybrid model, which focuses on using young youth as agents of agricultural transformation within the school system and in the communities in which they live.

“The approach is holistic, with students, parents, schools and communities benefiting from the opportunities provided by STEP,” the statement said.

According to the report, this approach integrates e-learning using audio-visual materials for basic agricultural training and hands-on learning by creating pilot enterprises at school and community levels.

STEP also incorporates after-school school clubs and youth outreach services through visits to successful businesses and agribusinesses, student competitions and debates, school farm open days, and more.

The student competition titled “STEP Agri-competition” is the first of its kind in Lagos State and has become popular as I-Youth prepares to hold the final stage of the competition in March 2022.

I-Youth executive director Aline Mugisho said the competition will inspire students to channel deliberate efforts to identify a career in agriculture, gain knowledge and develop the right attitude towards agriculture. It will build resilience and determination to develop an agricultural research and development mindset.

“The competition in Lagos State is a pilot phase. We imagine all the means to ensure that we change young people’s perception of agriculture. This competition will be extended to Kaduna and Kano states, and our dream is to make it a national competition like other such competitions,” Mugisho said.