While commissioning the new training facility for capacity development for youth agripreneurs on Monday, in Ibadan, the President of African Development Bank, (AFDB), Dr. Akin Adeshina, eulogized the contributions of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in advancing agriculture on the African continent in his address.
The $700,000 youth training facility which was funded by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and IITA, comprises of two major training rooms that can sit conveniently 50 trainees each, two big offices that can sit 30 interns each, and 20 standard sized offices.
The address reads, in part:
“I am greatly honored to be here, with my lovely wife, Grace, to witness the commissioning of this beautiful and spectacular “Akin Adesina Agripreneurs Building”, right at the heart of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
It’s such a great honor to be so recognized by this world-class agricultural research centre, where I worked as a senior economist and social science research coordinator from 1995-1998.”
“IITA has made tremendous contributions to Africa and especially to Nigerian agriculture. Nigerian agriculture would not be what it is today without IITA.
From high yielding varieties of maize, cassava, soybeans and cowpeas, to aflatoxin control and biological control, IITA has become the nerve center of the development of agriculture in Nigeria.
As Minister of Agriculture, I tapped massively into the technological innovations from IITA. Several Director Generals have contributed to building IITA, but Dr. Sanginga stands out amongst them all, for his transformation of this institute, focusing it on practical areas that have enhanced its relevance to Africa. I congratulate you all on your 50th anniversary.
It was an honor to have worked for IITA, worked with IITA and now have IITA engrave my name in history by the singular honor of naming a building after me. What a long way since those days I drove past here as a young boy with my dad.
I am humbled, and deeply appreciative of the opportunity to lend my name to this well-equipped building which will be used by young Agripreneurs to learn, set up and launch their own businesses, and create a prosperous living for themselves, their families and those they will employ.
I believe in the power of ideas and in the passion to transform ideas into a reality. I also believe in investing in those that have a strong vision so strong that even bulldozers cannot knock down.
When I visited IITA in 2014 as the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Nigeria, I saw those ideas, that passion to succeed, and that vision of success in the eyes of the young people in agriculture, I met that day.
This inspired me to become a champion for their vision. For theirs is the kind of vision needed by the youth all across Africa.”
“The future of Africa’s youth does not lie at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, nor in languishing in the heat of the Sahara desert, but in a prosperous Africa, with inclusive growth. Their future lies in a new journey: one towards unlocking the tremendous opportunities in agriculture. I firmly believe the future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will come from the agriculture sector.
Let me tell you why: Africa is today spending $35 billion a year importing food. That’s $35 billion it should be keeping on the continent. That’s $35 billion 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.”
By Adeyemi Bamidele Ezekiel