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Finalist World Award - Category Youth

Submitted by: The Smallholders Foundation
Country: Nigeria

The Future Conservationist and Farmers Program

The 'Future Conservationist and Farmers Program' tackles youth unemployment by practically training young secondary school students, (especially girls) with practical and valuable skills. It does this by planting modern fruit trees and crops, and the creation of live stock gardens, all in several secondary schools across Nigeria. The students grow the crops and fruit and rear the livestock, learning as they do so, important lessons on sustainability and cultivation. The money raised by this endeavor is put into a savings account, which in turn, allows the students to take micro-loans out, so as to produce a similar garden at home. Through this innovation, students acquire the skills to be self sufficient and self employed before they ever leave school.
This project then hopes that these agriculturally educated children will grow up and take over from the current aged farmers and utilize these new fresh ideas, therefore giving this sector in Nigeria a positive lift. Emeka Davis Lewechi decided to create the program after several youths came to the radio station where he was providing information on farming techniques to look for funding. Instead of giving them free money, he decided to create this innovation and give the youths something far more important - knowledge. His endeavor has been vastly successful with 10 ultra-modern and fully functional school gardens for practical agriculture teaching being established in 5 states of Nigeria. 4,500 students aged 12 - 25 years old have also acquired advanced practical agricultural, environmental management and agribusiness skills for self-employment. 1,736 students have built gardens at home, increasing their household income/production by 55% and becoming ultimately self-employed in agriculture. The project has also done a lot for the autonomy of young women, providing them with the means to obtain their own income, provides them with an unprecedented choice for their own life direction.
Emeka Davis Lewechi holds a Bachelor in Education Government and is currently a Rural Developer.  He is also the Programs Officer for his current farmers program. Emeka has made a huge difference to the lives of many young people to date, all stemming from his passion to instigate a change for the better. He says that he does not believe we can repair the basic fabric of society until people who are willing to work have work. Work organizes life; It gives us structure and discipline.


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