The President of the African Development Bank (AFDB), on Monday said the future of Africa’s youths lies in unlocking the tremendous opportunities available in agriculture.
Adesina said this at the inauguration of the Akin Adesina Agripreneurs Building which was held as part of activities to mark the 50th anniversary of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan.
He said: “I firmly believe the future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will come from the agriculture sector.
“Africa is spending 35 billion dollars a year importing food. That is 35 billion dollars it should be keeping on the continent; that’s 35 billion dollars market each year for its young people to tap into to create new wealth.
” But to do that requires totally changing the lenses with which we look at agriculture.
“ Agriculture should no longer be seen as a way of life or a development sector, but rather as a business for wealth creation.”
He said many students now choose to study agriculture as a last option
“Our young ones have memories of deserted villages with poor farmers.
“ With a rapidly aging population of farmers, unless something is done, urgently, Africa will have no farmers left within 20 years.
“The immediate action, therefore, must be to change the perception of agriculture.
“ We must make agriculture cool,” he said.
He said youths’ involvement in agriculture was key to sustainable economic growth and reduction of poverty across the continent.
Adesina said that investing in the youth would protect the continent’s economy today and in the future.
He called on African governments to prioritise investments in youths and their business.
“The youths are like computer microchip processors inside of Africa’s economy. small, many, but if we’ll connected, will transform Africa’s economy with speed.
“Over the next 30 years, Africa’s GDP is estimated to grow by 500 billion dollars a year, if it is able to address jobs for its youth, develop its human capital and improve access to better healthcare for its youths.
“GDP per capita in Africa will rise by 55 per cent in the next four years and by additional 55 per cent through 2050, if Africa provides jobs for its youths.
“The youths in agriculture, the agripreneurs, have set sail to a better future. Let’s put wind behind their sails,” he said.
The AFDB boss promised to offer his unwavering support by working tirelessly for agripreneurs across Africa.
“It is my hope that Akin Adesina Agripreneurs Building will become the oyster from where the pearls of wealth in agriculture will develop.
“The bank will be investing 24 billion dollars in agriculture over the next 10 years, with sharp focus on agricultural value chains, agribusiness and agroindustrial development, a key component of our strategy is to scale up support to agripreneurs, ” he said.
In his remarks, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, the Director General of IITA, said that the building would be used to train African youths in order to help them unlock employment opportunities and drive development through agriculture.
“Dr Adesina has staunchly promoted the cause of the African youths, especially strongly supporting the IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) over the years.
“Through his initiative, Jobs for Youth in Africa, the AFDB in collaboration with IITA would be scaling out the IYA model of youth engagement in agribusiness to create eight million agribusiness jobs within five years for youths.
“Over one billion dollars would be used to support agribusiness enterprises and jobs for young women and men who have embraced agriculture as a business.
“In appreciation of his continuous support and deep commitment of the youth, the IITA Board of Trustees, Management and staff, and the IITA Agripreneurs are preserving Dr Adesina’s legacy by naming the Youth Training Centre at IITA Headquarters after him,” he said.
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