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How AfDB Attracted 27 Ivorian Youth to Farming, IT Marketing
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How AfDB Attracted 27 Ivorian Youth to Farming, IT Marketing

At the auditorium of the building, the Project Director, Aka Valerie welcomed the 26 journalists from various African countries, with two of them from Nigeria. They were brought in from Abidjan by the African Development Bank (AfDB) to see practically, the innovative way the bank was supporting Africa’s agriculture transformation.

Valerie explained that the project, a model and pilot was supported with funding from AfDB with components that include a Youth Incubation Programme, Irrigation Programme and the Rice Processing Unit to help promote agriculture and improve livelihood as well as youth empowerment in Ivory Coast.

Valerie said through the AfDB funded project, in one and half year, 119 classrooms have been built in Belia Region, 25 potable water sources provided, and 64percent of the people in the region would benefit from it.

The youth and the women-centric project will create 19,00 direct employment, and empowering 230,000 women. It is estimated that 450,000 tonnes of cassava, rice, and other produce will be processed locally to improve the food security of the country.

Ivory Coast Youth Incubation Programme, a model!

About 30 minutes away from the project secretariat, large expanse farmland bordering a lake was dedicated to young farm enthusiasts from the sprawling National Polytechnic Institute Felix Houphouet-Boigny (INP-HB), Yamoussoukro.

At least 27 youths were seen in the farm cultivating the farm as they charted with excitement, barricading their heads from the sun reflection with local hats and protecting their feet with rain boots.

The Project Director, Dr Cornes Siaka said AfDB secured the incubator programme for the 27 youths for a six month period on agro production and processing.

According to Valerie, 274 youth who all have advanced education will be trained in 2019 in tech-enabled agriculture. The first session began early in Amy 2019, the peak of the rainy and farming season in the region.

The Youth Incubation Programme still supported by AfDB is run under the Advance School of Agriculture at the polytechnic where youth between age 18 and 35 years are trained on technology-based farming system.

As she turns to face the many faces, Ms Didier Kwakou, who is a young entrepreneur, said it was an opportunity for the youth to realise their dreams through agriculture.

She said: “I already have a project on the production, processing and marketing of mushroom because I am an Agronomist.  I also process oil and I enrol in this centre to gain the technical and management scheme to sustain my business.” For Marcel Yauo, he will rather be called a techy-farmer. He sells, delivers farm produce and gets customers through a mobile app he created. He got his idea from big online stores like Amazon and he felt that can be replicated in the agriculture sector of Ivory Coast.

“I am expecting to break even on logistics to service the local markets in the Belier Region and across the country because people can place orders through the internet and other ICT components. I have about 400 products like fresh fruits, grains and tubers and I partner with transport providers to deliver them to customers,” Yauo explained as he showcased his products.

Feeling proud of being called a farmer, one of the trainees, Ms Jumode Mabisu, who specialises on ginger products said, “There is no one to do it in our stead as youth, and I think that is the motivation for me.”

“Since everyone is working in the office, and I know much about IT, I decided to apply that knowledge to develop the agriculture sector,” Ms Didier noted. With such youthful passion, tapping the computers and combining them with farming, it is an exciting pathway to the Nigerian youth to embrace if the government, the private sector and multilateral donors could look down that way, or perhaps improve on existing programmes in the country.

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