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The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Corporate Farmers International (CFIL) on Thursday held a strategic meeting on ways of engaging youths to participate in agriculture through entertainment. Dr Kenton Dashell, IITA Deputy Director-General of Partnerships for Delivery, said that the youth had a negative perception of agriculture; hence the need to create a reality television show to engage them. Dashell said that in the 50 years of IITA’s existence in Nigeria, the institute was always eager to reach out to youths and change people’s lives through agriculture.

“This partnership will be a win-win situation for both IITA and Corporate Farmers. “We have been in Nigeria for 50 years and we have not been able to reach Nigerians the way we would want to. “We want to change people’s lives through agriculture. There are big challenges, particularly because the youths have a negative perception about the agriculture business. “We are hoping that this reality television programme would entertain the youth and get them to make millions doing what they should do to improve the economic status of the country,’’ he said.

Mr Kwesi Atta-Krah, Director of the Research Programme on Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics, led by IITA, said that the partnership was timely. He said that the television show should be able to woo investors to invest in agriculture. “This is an innovative programme; it is timely and everybody is aware of the challenges facing the sector. “So we need to be sure that we have thought out the production and marketing strategies as well as everything relating to the show so as to woo investors and get the youth to actively participate in agriculture,’’ he said.

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Mr Jamie Rickson, Director of Pan African Equipment, said that the reality television show on agriculture was a brilliant concept. According to him, this “agrotainment’’ idea would definitely inspire Nigerian youths to engage in entertainment. Mr Barth Aleonomoh, Lagos Branch Manager of United Vanguard Insurance Brokers, said that the programme was apt, as agriculture was fast becoming the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy. According to him, if the programme carries the message across perfectly, Nigerian youths would be proud to be agriculturists.

Aleonomoh encouraged the team handling the reality television show not to be deterred by any challenges that might crop up eventually.

Mr Perter Uwani, a Director of the Bank of Industry (BoI), stressed that food was a basic necessity of man, saying that this explained the need to encourage more youths to engage in agriculture. Uwani described the reality television show as a concept that would be beneficial to all. Mr Ade-Ajayi, National Coordinator of Corporate Farmers International, said that the project had been on for six years, while a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with IITA was signed in 2015. Ade-Ajayi said that the main idea behind the concept was driven by the need to promote innovation in agribusiness.

He said that 20 contestants from the six geopolitical zones of the country would participate in the Season One of the eight-week show, which would be broadcast for 62 days. “We are looking at the likes of Nigerian Idol, Gulder Ultimate Search and Big Brother Naija reality shows but with a twist towards agriculture. “We are looking at N39-billion investment, with a Gold Investor of N400 million; a Platinum Investor of N300 million and a Silver Investor of N100 million to N200 million in two years. “Investors profit will be 40 per cent,’’ he added.

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A Nollywood actor, Yemi Blaq, who spoke on behalf of the show “ambassadors’’, said that the use of entertainment to pass information was the best method of learning. “Before now, people used to see farmers as people of the lower class and farming as an unprofitable business.

“Now, the perception is changing but there is a lot to be done; this show will definitely make positive impacts,’’ he added. News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the “ambassadors’’ include Yemi Blaq, Femi Branch, Riychardo Agbor and Uche Obodo, all from the Nollywood industry, while GT the Guitar man is from the music scene.

Source: PM News