The IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA)
IYA is the first youth agripreneur group formed by IITA in 2012. It conducts a wide range of production, marketing and value adding enterprises, notably maize and soybean seed production, fish and vegetable farming and the manufacture of protein-rich snacks and soymilk. IYA primarily operates from IITA HQ in Ibadan but has developed several outfield and outreach activities. It has 35 members (57% women) and five elected officers ranging in age from 24 to 33 years. Recently the group replicated by recruiting an additional 30 members into a “IYA B” that will operate independently from the first group. Its location has access to field, equipment and IT facilities, as well as a local market within the IITA campus itself and the large, nearby city of Ibadan. The group has not only assembled a group of mentors from IITA staff and commercial partners, but also forged strong partnership with over 500 youth throughout Nigeria and Africa. The group recognizes its larger role as “re-awakening the mindset of youth toward sustainable and profitable agriculture that creates employment and wealth”. Some of its important innovations include the development of a fish hatchery, establishment of a food processing center and successful replication of the agripreneur approach in other countries.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The IITA Kalambo Youth Agripreneurs (IKYA)
IKYA was started in November 2013 as a youth-led venture in Bukavu town (South Kivu Province) to explore opportunities for self-employment through agribusiness. The group has 32 members (35% women) and three elected officers ranging in age from 25 to 33 years. Initially, the group was engaged in crop and seed production (bean, cassava, maize and soybean) then starting June 2014, it started agri-processing of cassava- and soybean-based products. Several baked products were developed that rely upon substitution with lower cost cassava flour, and protein fortification with soybean flour that comply with the standard of the National Food Control Agency. So far, 17 cassava-based and ten soy-based products were developed. These products are sold in local markets under the brand name IKYA. As a marketing strategy, the group has developed packaging materials with the IKYA label that has become a recognised brand within the market. More recently, IKYA has entered fish farming of tilapia to meet the high demand on the local market and is working with the Department of Fisheries to jointly manage a network of 38 ponds. In addition IKYA is engaged in training of women and youth to enable them to explore agro-processing enterprises and to diversify household diets. A total of 550 women and 400 youth were trained in these areas. With steady effort, the group is advancing its innovative ideas of farming and food processing, and is aiming to secure its own permanent farm and marketing location.
The Tanzania Youth Agripreneurs (TYA)
TYA is a group of young graduates from different fields, aged between 18 and 29 years. The group was formed in March 2014 to set up and run successful agriculture businesses and become job creators rather than job seekers, to change the mindset and attitudes of young people towards agriculture and empower them to be more productive. The group is engaged in different agribusinesses, including: packing of high quality cassava flour and selling under the brand “Mpishi Mkuu”, (www.mpishimkuu.com), production of tomatoes under a greenhouse and drip irrigation, supply of clean cassava planting material, processing of soybeans to products such as milk, yoghurt, and tofu, providing weed control services to farmers using appropriate and safe herbicides, and the use of modern techniques (hermetic bags) for storage of maize, and training farmers on making of high nutrient-dense foods locally grown crops. Despite that the youth studied courses not related to agriculture and probably are having their first contact with modern farming, they are enthusiastic and eager to share their knowledge about farming after their first year of learning and piloting. The group started with nearly 48 members (50% women) and three elected officers. Many members got good jobs after gaining useful experience from the Program.
The Kibwezi Hortipreneur Youth Group (KHYG)
KHYG is a recently founded group (March 2015) that conducts irrigated vegetable farming in semi-arid east Kenya at the University of Nairobi Dryland Research Station. It has 12 members (58% women) and four elected officers ranging in age from 23 to 29 years but remains open to additional qualified members. Its location is remote, lacking mobile phone and internet coverage, and even potable water, but the drip-irrigated growing conditions at Kibwezi are excellent and the farm is near the Mombasa-Nairobi commercial corridor. The group grows mixed vegetable in its 1700 m2 greenhouses and has started fish ponds and fish feed production as well. It has assembled a strong group of mentors from commercial interests, other commercial farms and researchers, and received training in marketing, greenhouse production and seedling operations. Some of its important innovations include the development of fish pond aeration and feeding systems, seed and vegetative propagation of large numbers of hybrid vegetables, and accessing top-end tomato markets.