The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, on Wednesday said any society that failed to feed its people should be considered a failed society.
Symington said this at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan during the presentation of a group of young entrepreneurs under the platform of Enable Youth Agriculture programme.
IITA is providing support for many African youths under the EYA initiative to create a platform where they will be encouraged to choose a career in agriculture.
About 50 youths who graduated from diverse fields of agricultural disciplines were drawn from Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and Congo to take part in the programme. IITA said the programmes began at its Ibadan headquarters in August 2012 and had spread across Africa, bringing under its net vibrant and energetic young people who were trained to become owners and co-owners of independent agribusiness enterprises.
The US ambassador called on African countries to surmount the challenge of food production, stressing that every nation must encourage its youths to go into agriculture in order to boost food production and achieve food sufficiency.
While urging the youths to form value chains with other interests, Symington recommended the Ghanaian model of micro-finance where a whole village was transformed by an internally-generated trade interest model of villagers financing themselves from interests they pulled together to finance one another.
He also urged the youths from different African countries to buy products from one another and put together lessons they learned from themselves in the process of learning the agricultural entrepreneurial skills.
He said, “You should buy products from each other. You are your own buyers and you should be your own internal buyers. Put together lessons learnt in the process. Each should learn from the mistakes and experiences of the other.
“You should also learn from the Silicon Valley maxim. In Silicon, they have an expression: ‘If you haven’t failed once, you are not in business.’ You are like Silicon Valley. You will fall; pick yourselves up. Is there anyone who rides a bicycle for the first time without falling down?”
In his remarks, the Director General of IITA, Dr Nterenya Sanginga, told the ambassador of his effort to convince some Nigerian professors in Missouri, US, to come back to Nigeria and strengthen the agricultural strides being made back home.
He stated that in the next 30 years, Africa would become the world food basket.