BABBAN GONA has reaffirmed its commitment to reducing the alarming trend of unemployment amongst youths through agriculture.
Managing Director of the firm, Mr. Kola Masha, who gave the assurance, said one of the root causes of insecurity in Nigeria is youth unemployment, especially in the rural areas, adding that the best way to disrupt the cycle of poverty and democratise wealth is to create equal opportunities for fulfilling work, particularly in the agricultural sector, for the demography who are at risk of being led astray.
Babban Gona is currently the largest maize-producing entity in West Africa. In the last 10 years, it has consistently enabled smallholder members increase their yields and attain net incomes of more than double the national average, while maintaining repayment rates on their loans of over 99 per cent.
Having assisted over 110,000 smallholder farmers cumulatively, cultivating over 225,000 acres of maize through its Agricultural Franchise Model, the firm’s model addresses the rising youth unemployment in West Africa, which has led to increased violence that destabilises regional economies and threatens to accelerate a migration problem that would dwarf the current refugee crisis.
He said: “It is often believed that youths do not like farming, but this is not the case. What the youths see is that farming provides a low return on efforts, but Babban Gona has been able to demonstrate that farming is very lucrative and can improve their livelihoods.
“We use technology to help members scale and increase their yields rapidly by providing the required training and education, access to cost effective financing, access to high quality agricultural inputs, as well as harvesting and marketing support services. In 2020 alone, we created over 80,000 jobs in agriculture with more than 50 per cent of these jobs targeted at youths and a third for women.”
Masha said smallholders are often referred by existing members and can join Babban Gona after undergoing a testing and interview process. “Babban Gona members are committed to transitioning their farm operations into commercial enterprises.
“In 2020, Babban Gona re-designed its flagship Women Economic Development Initiative (WEDI) with overwhelming success, and scaled to supporting almost 20,000 rural female entrepreneurs with over 85 per cent of them falling within the youth demography….”