The West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD) with support of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has officially launched the project on "Empowering Youths for Agripreneurship in West Africa" on June 23, 2016 in Dakar Senegal.

This project aims to create entrepreneurial opportunities for 1,000 youths in agriculture to contribute to the sustainable improvement of productivity, competitiveness and agricultural systems markets in the sub-region.

This project is the second phase of CORAF/WECARD intervention towards youth agripreneurs which is implemented under the CORAF/WECARD model for Youth Agri-preneurships based on three main pillars: (i) increased use of knowledge generated through research, (ii) establishment of public-private partnerships and (iii) creation of enabling conditions for agribusiness development.

These pillars are supported by a strong communication medium which is cross-cutting. Results obtained include: (i) Thirty (30) lecture videos on potential high impact agricultural technologies and innovations generated by National Centers of Specializations (NCoS) for job and wealth creation for the youths disseminated through YouTube and other social media tools ; (ii) Advisory services provided to guide youths on how to develop skills and knowledge on job creation.

The second project titled “Empowering Youths for Agri-preneurships in West Africa” is currently ongoing. Throughout the project, the selected young agricultural entrepreneurs will benefit from mentoring and distance learning courses through a virtual platform from imminent scientists and researchers on agricultural technologies generated under the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP) as well as successful entrepreneurs from the private sector.

A mentoring program:

provided through the online platform aims to pair agricultural professionals in business, research, extension services to young agripreneurships for guidance and to support the next generation by passing on valuable farming practices.

A distance learning program:

to provide tailored made courses dealing with the economic principles ranging from agro food systems to post-harvest and marketing. The courses aim at strengthening youth capabilities in order to better respond to the challenges of globalization and new market opportunities.

The ambition of the CORAF / WECARD is to demonstrate that products of science can be transformed into sustainable streams of income for young agripreneurs and stimulate technologies adoption through the establishment of incubation centers within its national centers of specialization oriented speculation as Livestock, aquaculture, fruits & vegetables, dry cereals, plantains, roots & tubers, maize and rice. The objective is to have research outputs improve productivity of young agripreneurs with a glimmer hope that they translate into economic gain.

So far, the model has delivered interesting results and, interesting lessons are being learned, which will lead to improving the model but also to options for scaling up and out of the model. On the basis of the lessons learned, users of the products made a recommendation to CORAF/WECARD to explore all possibilities of expanding (scaling mechanisms) the reach of the videos beyond the existing viewers. As a response, creation of incubator centers within NCoS was conceived as an appropriate and efficient strategy for scaling the model.