*Institutes To Empower 6,000 Youth Agric Entrepreneurs
Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi of Ife, has emphasized his desire to partner with the Institute of International Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in rejuvenating Africa’s agriculture for provision of youth employment particularly.
The monarch was responding to a request for partnership to enhance cocoa production, by the institute’s delegation, led by Ranjana Bhattacharjee, a Molecular Geneticist and Frederick Schreurs, Chief Executive, Business Incubation Platform (BIP), during his first coronation anniversary in Ile-Ife, Osun State on December 10.
The institute had specifically sought support to establish 12 Agro-Industrial Parks in Ile-Ife, thereby boosting youth employment in agriculture.
Explaining the financial implication of establishing the Agro-Industrial Parks, Schreurs lamented that “the situation of graduate unemployment is worsening by the year as universities are producing more graduates year after year, and the economy is not creating enough jobs to engage these youths.
“IITA is on course to empower about 6,000 youth to start their agribusinesses and earn N2.5 million annually, we want to work together with you to make this happen,” he told the monarch.
In the proposal, the visitors proposed that cocoa farming in Southwestern Nigeria should be intensified by IITA in collaboration with the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) also located in Ibadan.
The target, Schreurs continued is the rehabilitation of old farms settlements in the geo-political zones, adoption of improved agronomic practices, and increased use of high quality planting materials of improved varieties, all in a bid to develop a more profitable cocoa production system in Southwest Nigeria.
Responding to the proposal, Oba Ogunwusi assured the IITA team of working hand-in-hand with them to boost agriculture and encourage youth emancipation from unemployment.
The Ooni applauded the institute for its continuous efforts to improve and transform agriculture.
“Thank you for coming, thank you also for giving a stand to agriculture. I am impressed at your work. I have seen your proposal, it is perfect, and I have submitted to the government. We will work together as a team, we will launch the agricultural reality show by next year in which IITA will play a major role, and it will bring the young people to the market,” his majesty said.
Appreciating the monarch, Bhattacharjee, on behalf of the IITA team appreciated the traditional monarch, expressing gladness that the Ooni liked “the proposal and submitted it to the government.
“There is a sudden increase in the demand for cocoa planting materials. As we get enquiries from people, it is paramount that the supply meets the reality of the demand.
“I would like to thank you for inviting IITA to this prestigious grand celebration and congratulations on your one year anniversary. We look forward to continue the partnership and have another grand celebration next year,” he added.
The occasion was also attended by notable Nigerians, including IITA Ambassador and former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and the playwright, Prof Wole Soyinka.