The IITA Youth Agripreneurs program has won the 2019 International Innovation Award for sustainable food and Agriculture in recognition of its commitment to improving both agribusiness opportunities and creditworthiness of youth across Africa.
The award, the first of its kind, funded by the Government of Switzerland, was presented during the 41st conference of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) at its Headquarters in Rome, with high-level government representatives across the globe in attendance on June 26, 2019.
FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva congratulated the awardees for the contribution they have made, and inspirations their work has brought. He added, “It is very important to showcase positive results and concrete ways in which we can work together.”
The award which was in two categories, with the first category recognizing excellence in digitization and innovation for sustainable food systems. The second category International innovation award for sustainable food and agriculture, in which IYA emerged successful, recognizes the important role of innovations that empower youth to participate in securing the future through sustainable food and agricultural systems.
These innovations are particularly significant in the face of increased environmental challenges, in line with the recently launched United Nations Decade of Family Farming and the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
Receiving the category B award on behalf of IYA, Evelyn Ohanwusi the Head of the program, appreciated the organizers and sponsors of the award saying; “IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) is grateful to have been recognized as an innovation that empowers youth in agriculture and food systems and chosen among other qualified nominees. We sincerely appreciate the Government of Switzerland and the Food and Agriculture Organization for contributing to our success story.”
Speaking further, She dedicated the award to young people involved in agricultural transformation, encouraging them to keep working hard towards resolving the problems of food insecurity and unemployment in Africa. “This award is dedicated to all youths in the agriculture and food systems across the world especially in Africa. We have started the revolution and yes, we can achieve more!” she added.
The IITA Youth Agripreneur Program is a youth in agribusiness initiative that was established in 2012, by the Director-General of the IITA, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, to address the issue of widespread youth unemployment, and to provide a platform that propels young people towards self-employment in agriculture. The program started in Ibadan, Oyo state Nigeria and has expanded into 13 groups with over 385 members operating 36 learning-by-doing enterprises in about 10 African countries including; Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Cameroon, Sudan, Madagascar, and Togo.