Dele Ogbodo in Abuja

The President, Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Mr. Akinwumi Adeshina, said the bank has earmarked $12.5billon for the training of the next generation of agriculture entrepreneurs (Agripreneurs), in Nigeria and 24 other African countries before 2025.

The money, to be disbursed to 10,000 youths in each country through AfDB’s Empowering Novel Agric-Business-Led Employment for Youth in African Agriculture (ENABLED Youth), is aimed at promoting youth entrepreneurship in agriculture and agro-business.

According to information obtained Sunday night from the bank’s official website where resolutions from the just concluded Sasakawa symposium on contributing to social security and jobs through agriculture held at the 6th Tokyo international conference on African Development (TICAD VI) in Nairobi, Kenya.

Adeshina said: “Under the Programme, AfDB, will train the next generation of agriculture entrepreneurs, also referred to as ‘agripreneurs.
“The investment required under the ENABLE Youth program to provide 10,000 youth agribusinesses per country is US $0.5 billion, translating to about US $12.5 billion in 25 countries.”
He said if each enterprise creates five additional employees, this would amount to a minimum of 2.5 million and up to 5 million jobs created within the period.

According to him, governments in the continents can develop agro-business do this by developing agro-allied industrial zones and staple crop processing zones in rural areas.
Furthermore, he said: “The zones, supported with consolidated infrastructure, including roads, water, electricity, will drive down the cost of doing business for private food and agribusiness firms.”

Such zones, he noted, would create markets for farmers, boosting economic opportunities in rural areas, stimulating jobs and attracting higher domestic and foreign investments into the rural areas, adding that they will turn the rural areas into zones of economic prosperity.

According to him, “Feed Africa”, one of the bank’s priorities, aims to transform African agriculture into a globally competitive, inclusive and business-oriented sector that creates wealth, generates gainful employment, improves quality of life and secures the environment.
The AfDB boss said: “The Feed Africa Strategy focuses on promoting given agricultural commodity value chains along eight priority investment areas.

“Rice self-sufficiency; Cassava intensification; Food security in the Sahel; Transformation of the savannah; Revitalisation of tree plantation; Promotion of horticulture; Wheat in Africa; and Fish self-sufficiency.”

The Chairman of Nippon Foundation, Yohei Sasakawa, in the statement was lauded for contributing to the Sasakawa Africa Association’s (SAA) operations for 30 years as a core donor, also lauded the bank’s strategy, saying it was in line with SAA’s approach, which seeks to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers by helping them to diversify their activities to increase income.
In his remarks, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, expressed regret over low number of extension workers in his country, standing at a ratio of one extension worker to 8,000 farmers.