YPARD Nigeria hosted the Global Café across Nigeria in different locations in December of 2020. The South West episode held in Ibadan, Oyo State on the 19th of December 2020 in the University of Ibadan-Nigeria. The YPARD Café event which was themed Youth engagement in Agribusiness: Post-COVID-19 brought together 26 young professionals and agribusiness enthusiasts and was well attended with COVID-19 protocols in place. The discussions highlighted the challenges COVID-19 posed, opportunities for youth employability and innovation in agriculture and a path to socio-economic recovery for the nation.
Atinuke Lebile who is the Program Officer of YPARD Nigeria welcomed participants to the event and launched the event with an introductory expose on the activities of the global international organisation that YPARD is and the networking opportunities it provides.
A Keynote address on Agribusiness and Youth was delivered by Olaoluwa Farotimi, YPARD Osun state Representative. He spoke extensively on the role of youths in agribusiness, the innovations done by youths in the Agribusiness sector. Mr. Olaoluwa urged youths to be specific when choosing any area of agribusiness, understand the agricultural value chain, collaborate and also solve a particular problem in any niche of their choice. In conclusion, he shared some unexplored opportunities in the Agribusiness sector which youth can key into.
The panel session where guest speakers were invited to share their pre and post COVID -19 experiences was probably the highlight of the event. The line-up of panellists included:
Mr. Olorunfemi Dunsi- Expert on Precision and Integrated Agriculture.
Mrs.Olubunmi Agbato- CEO of Bspice Fish Global Product.
Mr. Gbenga Owoeye- Founder, Gomade Agro-allied enterprise.
Miss. Atinuke Lebile - Cofounder of Cato foods.
Akinbowale Showemimo who is the YPARD local representative for Oyo state and was the chief host of the YPARD Café shared his challenges as a fish farmer during the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic and invited the panellists to the platform to share their experiences and innovative/ technologic approaches they had taken to surmount their own challenges.
Olubunmi Agbato who is a food processor talked of how the breakdown in the movement of goods and services affected her enterprise, how she had to let go of trained staff and how that led her to be innovative with her delivery service.
Olorunfemi Dunsin who is an agro service provider spoke of how he used social media such as YouTube and e-learning platforms to further his self-improvement and how that improved the efficiency of his service to his clients.
Gbenga Owoeye who is a crop farmer, that cultivates yams explained how the COVID-19 pandemic posed a challenge as the peak of his harvesting schedule was amid the lockdown imposed by the government and how that led him to think beyond the box and create a new product from his produce. He talked about exploring food processing techniques to ensure the avoidance of postharvest losses.
After the panel sessions, participants addressed their questions to the panellists and further discussions ensued. A vote of thanks was given by a participant who was in a YPARD event for the very first time, he spoke of his deep appreciation of the event, the lessons he learnt from the experiences of the agribusiness professionals and his gratitude to the YPARD Global body. Group Pictures were taken and participants were allowed the opportunity to network and build new business relationships.