The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), one of the largest breeders of new varieties of soybean seeds, has indicated the need to empower youth in production of soybean.
Speaking during an interaction ceremony in Blantyre with Youth in Agriculture for Economic Development (YAED) team, IITA Plant Breeder Programme Manager Dr Ghenga Akinwale said Malawi cannot materialize in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) without the involvement of the youth in agriculture.
He said Malawi is among the African countries without youth participation in agricultural initiatives. He advised that with the support from IITA, African Development Bank (AfDB) and other donor partners, YAED should work on engaging more youth in agriculture from all three regions of the country.
“The program started five years ago. The major objective is to mobilize youth across African continent in agriculture initiative. We provide opportunities to the youth who are in agriculture and provide them with a source of employment, also again creating job opportunities for the youths. We have youth group in Ghana, Nigeria and Zambia and other African countries. Actually, IITA take youth through agricultural value chain; with this agribusiness in Malawi is set to benefit from increased support,” he stated.
The two organizations will also co-develop agribusiness incubation units and systems for experiential learning and capacity development of youth in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and create a link with different expatriates.
“This is demonstration of the commitment by regional and international organizations to support job and wealth creation through agricultural incubation,” said Akinwale.
In his remarks, YAED Programmes Manager Happy Arnold indicated that the joint support will assist in the implementation of the organization’s drafted programmes meant to benefit 20, 000 Malawi youth before the year 2020 that are initiated to promote job creation.
He hailed IITA for supporting YAED with Soybean seeds for the 2016/17 growing season.
“There are a considerable number of projects that are meant to benefit and empower the youth socially and economically. YAED regard agriculture as a ground breaking solution to the increased level of unemployment and extreme poverty affecting the youths across the country. We are delighted to partner with IITA to accelerate the opportunities that agriculture can bring.
“The coming in of IITA with soybean seed donation to the organisation is of significant importance and it’s a milestone development. More youth have expressed interest in joining and being members of the organisation to benefit from its programs. These are the youth that have seen the opportunities availed by agribusiness but lack capital and financial support,” explained Arnold in an interview with Malawi24.
Arnold further urged different donor partners to support the agriculture initiative run by the organisation.
“We are calling for more support from different partners that will accelerate the successful development of start-up and existing businesses by providing entrepreneurs with customized services and resources. We welcome any organisation that provides support and advisory services, access to finance, and premises among others,” he said.
Currently YAED intends to implement an Agribusiness Piggery Incubation Scheme under the “Buy a youth a pig” project and is advocating for active youth participation in building resilience against climatic change through irrigated maize.
IITA is an Africa-based international not-for-profit research-for-development organization, established in 1967 to offer a research partnership that facilitates agricultural solutions for hunger, poverty, and natural resource degradation throughout the tropics.