To ensure that youths find agriculture attractive, Soilless Farm Lab in partnership with Mastercard Foundation have trained and graduated its second set of 1,000 youths in technology-enabled food production.
Under a joint project, themed, Enterprise for Youth in Agriculture (EYIA), youths eager to improve their skills and livelihoods were exposed to income generating opportunities.
During the training, stakeholders across various value chains shared their experiences—amplifying the message that supporting this sector is key to drive economy growth and recovery.
Samson Ogbole, founder of Soilless Farm Lab, explained that EYIA a collaboration between Soilless Farm lab and Mastercard Foundation seek to expose young people about the lucrative aspect of farming by educating them about modern methods, machineries, and financial aid to uplift their way of life.
According to him, the training was powered by a network of agricultural advocates who prepare the youths to create innovative solutions to address challenges limiting the sector while also inspiring them.
He said EYIA is targeted at training 12,000 youths aged between 18 and 29 in a space of three years as young people are seen as the key driver in boosting the agriculture sector.
“We are taking in a 1000 students per quarter,” he said, adding that the training has not only provided young people with the means to generate a stable source of income but also contribute to the sustainable development of their communities.
“We train them on greenhouse set, hydroponics, how to set up their farms, in our premises within a three plots of land. We connect them to the market at the end of the programme,” he said.
“For the training itself, we had a group of 50.The 50 young people are divided into various groups. Some are trained for technical roles such as plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, welders, fabricators. At the end of the day, the team has what it takes to set up a screen house on their own.”
According to him, the objective was to improve their potential in alignment with the modern agricultural technology and empowering them to maximize production.
He said part of the programme aimed to train the youths to construct, operate, maintain, and repair greenhouses, adding that the training also met the sector’s requirements of best agronomic, financial and marketing knowledge to manage farming projects.
“The 50 young people are divided into the various groups. Some are trained for technical as plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, welders, and fabricators.
“At the end of the day, the team has what it takes to set up a screen house on their own. On the other hand, we also trained them on farm management, expose them to agronomic practices, on how plants work, on farm logistics and proper food handling,” he said.
He added that some were trained to handle brand management. “All these specialists were grouped together. At the end, we set up a company for them. We got them company registration, a seal, and attached them to a lawyer. The lawyer is paid for the first one year for them. This way they become a proper set up company.”
He noted that 2,000 youths have been trained out of the 12,000 project target.
A major requirement was that they had to stay on campus while they are undergoing the 12 weeks training programme. We have accommodation to house the 1,000 people. For the first batch, majority of the people came from Oyo, Lagos and Ogun States respectively.
“For this second batch majority of the intakes were from Lagos, then Ogun. Of course, we had from as far as Borno, Nassarawa, Anambra, and Imo. Almost all the states were represented during this session.”
“In term of gender balance, we had 60 percent females and 30 percent males during the first batch. Second batch, we had 70 per cent females, 30 per cent males. We had 700 females and 300 males on campus.”
Fakolade Micheal, a beneficiary from Ogun State, expressed confidence, that the training has propelled them into channeling deliberate efforts into making a career in agriculture.