New-World Ugbameta – A Case of Change in Mindset

New-World Ugbameta became the highlight of the event during the commissioning of the A.A. Adesina Agripreneurs building in July. He received a lot of cheers while sharing his experience from being a Jaguda (miscreant) to a professional fish farmer. He is one of the beneficiaries of the Chevron-sponsored project being implemented by IYA in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria. In 2015, IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) submitted its first self-written project proposal to Chevron Nigeria Limited to train unemployed young people in the Niger-Delta region with the focus of harnessing their energy towards sustainable agribusiness enterprise along the value chains of cassava, plantain, banana, and fish.

The proposal birthed the Community Youth in Agribusiness Group (CYAG) project which focuses on training youth in the Ijaw and Itsekiri communities to venture into agriculture as a business. Ugbameta and forty other young people were taken through classroom training, field demonstrations, and most especially, explorative visits to successful agribusiness enterprises for them to have a change in perspective about how agriculture can be practiced on a commercial scale.

This explorative visit and training according to Ugbameta was the magic behind his change of perception about agriculture. Narrating his experience before his encounter with the team of young Agripreneurs from IITA, Ugbameta stated that he was one of the miscreants used by vandals in the Niger-Delta region to create unrest and unnecessary havoc with oil workers who carry out their legitimate duty in the area. “I am not one of the vandals but what they do is that they come to our area, hire us, pay us, and take us to the entrance of the oil companies and we would just start fighting and causing unnecessary problems just to distract the attention of the oil workers from monitoring their pipelines or going about their work. After the people finish with their operation, they will call us and everything will return to normal,” he said.

Ugbameta’s skin shows scars sustained from a series of stabs from sharp objects. He has lost valuables which according to him are unquantifiable when compared to the peanuts he and other youth have been paid after causing unrest. This, according to him, would have continued if not for the intervention of IYA through the Chevron-sponsored project. “When they asked me to come and participate in this training, I thought it was just one of the ones we did in the past where they will gather us and just give us money and nothing tangible will come out of it. But after we finished with the classroom training, they brought us to IITA in Ibadan and I saw where they were using electricity to fry garri. This really amazed me because in NigerDelta, we use firewood. We were also