As part of efforts to proffer solutions to the challenges bedevilling Nigeria’s agriculture sector, the Central Committee of the Nigeria Agriculture Awards (NAA), has integrated youth project with essay competition cash awards to attract younger generation into agriculture.
The NAA project and essay competition targeting youths in secondary schools and tertiary institutions across the country with the theme, “Building a Crop of Young Young Agropreneurs,” was aimed at evolving a generation of youths that would effectively contribute to the development of the agricultural sector.
During the 2017 NAA awards presentation ceremony in Lagos, which was sponsored by Triton Group, cash awards were presented to three groups that emerged winners in the tertiary category as well as to two students from different schools who emerged winners in the secondary school category.
In the tertiary category, the overall winner won a star prize of N1 million, second prize winner won N500,000 while the third prize winner got N250,000. In the secondary school category, the first prize winner went home with N250,000 while the second best got N150,000.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Chief Executive Officer, AgroNigeria, Richard-Mark Mbaram, said that NAA saw the need to bring the youths on board because it realised that they are the missing developmental keys to the chain that is called the value chain in agriculture.
He said: “When you have the bulk of farmers and players in the agricultural space at around the age of 60 and they are on their way out, then you have got a challenge on your hand. Yet you have to feed more people and you realise you have to do something very desperate and here we are sensitising them from joining the agricultural space. We, therefore, decided that we need to bring in a component that has to do with youths.
“We said we would have two categories, which is tertiary category and secondary category. For the tertiary category, we told them to bring themselves into maximum of three by identifying a problem area in agriculture space and proffer solutions to it and give us the timeline their intervention will make headway in the sector. We turned to secondary schools and said, ‘we want you to imaging yourself as the Minister of Agriculture of Nigeria; write an essay and tell us what you would do to develop the sector’ and we got wonderful ideas from these youths.”
Mbaram, therefore, commended the 2017 World Food Prize Winner, the President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, for giving NAA the required support given his understanding of what NAA is doing and the value it is bringing to the agriculture sector.