Heifer International, a non-profit international organization, has restated its commitment to eradication of poverty, hunger and unemployment among the teeming enterprising and tech-savvy African youth, especially Nigeria through agricultural technology that will improve agriculture and boost yield.
The Country Director, Heifer International, Rufus Idris, stated this at the launch of the organization’s Agriculture Youth and Technology Nigeria (AYuTe Nigeria) challenge on Wednesday in Lagos.
AYuTe, an agric-tech innovation is targeted at Nigerian youth to encourage them to take up agriculture and eradicate hunger, unemployment, poverty and ultimately boost food production in the country. channel their enterprising capability coupled with the in a bid to reduce hunger and poverty issues across the country.
The country director said the challenge, which application timeline runs from the day of its launch, August 17 to September 16, 2022, is targeting startups and winners will be rewarded with $20,000.
In his welcome address, Idris said, “Welcome to the official launch of AYuTe Nigeria Challenge. Heifer International is an international development organization, a non-profit. We are on a mission to end global hunger and poverty. For more than 77 years, Heifer has been working with small-holder farmers, communities. And we’ve impacted 89 million households that have been moved out of poverty in various countries.
“For more than 48 years, we’ve been working in Africa as well, impacting lives, transforming communities and leading small-holder farmers into sustainability in all situations to help address the issue of hunger and also the issue of poverty in the whole of the state. Heifer moved to Nigeria in 2021 because we have an ambitious target going forward 2025 and 2030 and to also help an additional 10 million households to address the problem of hunger across communities.”
Speaking at the launch yesterday in Lagos, Country Director, Heifer International, Rufus Idris said that the challenge, whose application timeline runs from August 17th to September 16th ,2022, is targeting startups and winners would be rewarded $20,000.
According to him, there is no way the problem of hunger and poverty can be addressed without scaling the productivity level of the agricultural sector.
“To do this, we agreed that it is important to integrate youths and also integrate technology and innovation as well. We saw that we need to also domesticate the initiative more at the local level for some of this tech businesses that are not at the growth stage but are at the startup stage, to actually help them grow beyond that point and that is why we are here today to launch the AYuTe Nigeria challenge where startup stage companies will compete and winners will emerge and win cash prize of $20,000.
In her keynote address, Commissioner for Agriculture, Lagos State, Mrs Abisola Olusanya said that inability to harness data, lack of access to technical training, perceived unprofitability around agriculture among other things, are reasons why youths shy away from agriculture.
She noted that the biggest challenge facing farmers is marketing, which she said the government is unrelenting to address. She, however, called on the youths to seize the opportunity the AYuTe challenge is offering to grow the sector.
She said:” For the small holder farmers we have 150 of them in Lagos. Majority of them are not even asking for things like inputs. Marketing is actually the biggest challenge that our farmers here in Lagos have. The way our markets are run are completely different and unless you are a part of the system you will not understand.
“For the fact that we have more or less capitalisation, so there are cartels also running these markets. They are not allowing the farmers within the state to thrive therefore discouraging those farmers to continue with production and they end up causing those farmers to give up on the business and move on to something else.
“With the changing demography, it is only the much older farmers that are still back in the North and for that reason, they do not have much strength to be able to provide that food that we need down south. Which is why it is critical that those of us here stop sleeping, and this is a clarion call to the youths to take this very future you want for this nation, for this state. It is in your hands.”
Story by Olusegun Obisanya