Originally published at: http://humidtropics.cgiar.org/youth-an-engine-of-growth-for-sustainable-development-in-drc/
As part of the integration of their research for development (R4D) activities, IITA-Kalambo and the Catholic Archdiocese of Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have initiated a joint program to pursue agricultural R4D to improve the livelihoods of farmers. Implemented under the framework of Humidtropics, the program involves women and youth in agricultural research, capacity development and Farmer Field Schools. The Archdiocese has made land available to establish R4D farm trials, using them as a basis for training women farmers and youth in different agricultural enterprises with the goal of developing entrepreneurship.
One of the pillars of this joint program is the IITA-Kalambo Youth Agripreneurs (IKYA). IKYA is a group of young and enterprising graduates engaged in agribusiness with the aim of building agribusiness enterprises for themselves and serving as a model to other youth. Formally launched in April 2014, the group has a current membership of 30 young Business Builders, aged between 25-32 years old from different background. The group is developing agricultural opportunities that will create jobs and generate income for IKYA members, and then serve as model that will inspire other youth to engage in agribusiness.
"This is good news for the Great Lakes Region. Young people are now taking advantage of the agricultural market opportunities that exist in a region that has been largely devoid of private sector initiatives", stated Bernard Vanlauwe, Strategic Research Theme Leader - Integrated Systems Improvement, Humidtropics, and Director, Central Africa Hub and Natural Resource Management, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
The activities of the group cut across the value chains of different crops including cassava, maize, beans and soybeans. The group has engaged in different profitable agriculture business enterprises including such as production and sales of agricultural commodities and vegetables. In addition, they are into agro-processing of cassava and maize with the production of high-quality cassava and maize flour and cassava starch. Aiming to increase their incomes, the young and enterprising members of IKYA have increased their business opportunities by going into value-addition activities through the development and marketing of nutritious cassava-soybean agro-foods products, which has improved the nutritional diversity of household diets.
IKYA training women and youth in Bunyakiri, DRC.
In the process of developing new partnerships and reaching out the wider community, IKYA linked up with the Humidtropics Platforms in South Kivu Province of DRC. IKYA has engaged with the R4D Platform in Bukavu and the Mushinga Innovation Platform (IP), which cut across stakeholders along commodity value chains, including National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS), NGOs, agro-dealers, farmers groups and associations, to widen and deepen its operation. It has used the Platforms to build new partnerships, develop new products, learn from the others stakeholders, share experiences, enlarge their market, pursue advocacy for youth-friendly policies and develop grant proposals.
For example, through the R4D Platform IKYA has partnered with IITA, DIOBASS, a national NGO, and PAIDEK, a microfinance institution, to successfully apply and secure a grant from the International Development Research Center (IDRC) for the purpose of promoting youth engagement in agribusiness in South Kivu Province. The project is current underway.
IKYA will use the Nyakabera Fishponds for their aquaculture project in Bukavu.
Recently, IKYA also successfully secured a grant from Humidtropics to pursue aquaculture enterprise. With this aquaculture project, IKYA members seek to increase their income, create job opportunities for teeming youth populations and vulnerable women, as well as promote enhanced household food nutrition, in line with key Humidtropics Intermediate Development Outcomes (IDOs), that will contribute to reducing poverty and improving household health and nutrition. Humidtopics has provided an effective space for the youth to engage, learn, grow and be heard.
Blog by Noel Mulinganya and Gracia Kahasha, IITA-Kalambo Youth Agripreneurs, and by Chris Okafor, East and Central Africa Flagship Manager, Humidtropics/IITA. Blog edited by Valérie Poiré, Communication Officer, Humidtropics. Photos by Noel Mulinganya/IKYA.