Oyo State Government is currently using the Rural Community Development Centre (RCDC) in Awe, Afijio Local Government Area as its satellite site for youth-in-agribusiness related activities.
The state government is partnering with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) to make the project a big success.
The development centre is however located about 56 kilometres from Ibadan, the state capital. RCDC will be used for agribusiness incubation, an agribusiness park, the establishment of pilot learning enterprises, and a training centre.
The centre, a farm training institute owned by the state government, will enable IYA to expand its activities and allow young people to have hands-on experience on agribusiness.
Governor Seyi Makinde was at the RCDC in the second week of June to flag off the proposed IYA agribusiness incubation activities.
Deputy Governor Rauf Olaniyan accompanied him, with Agriculture Commissioner, Muyiwa Ojekunle, the Executive Adviser to the governor on Agribusiness, Dr Debo Akande, Chief of Staff, Chief Bisi Ilaka, rural chiefs, and other top public officials of the state.
Ojekunle said the governor was flagging off the project to fulfil his promise to use agriculture as one of the major drivers of the Oyo economy. He said, “the effort is to start here today in Afijio local government and gradually spread to other parts of the state. This initiative will also help in building the capacity of youth who will pursue a career in the agricultural sector.”
Representing IITA Director-General, Dr Kenton Dashiell, the deputy director-general, Partnerships for Delivery, stated that the Institute’s efforts in engaging the youth have been impactful and have given birth to job creators and employers of labour.
He stressed that the Institute, with the support of the state government, intends to transform the facility at Awe into an agribusiness training centre for the benefit of young people in the state and environs.
Outlining the plans of IYA for the centre, Osun Idowu on behalf of IYA, said the agribusiness park will see young people operating businesses in a cluster. He said IYA would use the established pilot enterprises to conduct agribusiness incubation for the youth. However, he appealed to the governor to allocate some resources to renovate some of the facilities at the centre.
Some youth who have benefited from the incubation programme of IYA under different projects also gave testimonies.
Oyinkansola Bamimure, a beneficiary of the Youth in Agribusiness and Sustainable Agriculture (YEASA) project, who processes maize into pap and custard powder, and Gbemisola Olawore, a beneficiary of the ENABLE-TAAT project, who owns a fish processing business, spoke about how the IYA programme has helped in creating career paths in the agricultural sector for them. They also talked about their business challenges such as funding and verification of their products by the national food bodies, which would enable them to access a broader market.
Also speaking, Akande appreciated IITA for its support and willingness to work with the state government in resuscitating the Awe facility that has been moribund for many years.
“What we are doing is to change the narrative for youth in Oyo and Nigeria so that our products will not only be in Nigeria but on the shelves of international supermarkets. I am sure that this place will yield millions of naira to youth every year”, he says.