Our Story

We are Start Them Early Program

In September 2018, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture received the Africa Food Prize Award at the Africa Green   Revolution Forum in Kigali, Rwanda.

Early   Program  (STEP)  in  2018  with  the  aim  of  attracting  and  retaining  the  interest  of  primary  and  secondary  school students in agriculture. The STEP initiative is one of IITA’s effort in ensuring that young people embrace agriculture as a career and business.

 The DG-IITA, Dr Nteranya Sanginga in his speech while receiving the award   on   behalf   of   the Institute revealed that the next program IITA will be involved in will be to start changing the mindset of young people in  primary   and   secondary   schools about agriculture. True to his words, Dr Sanginga established   the   Start   Them Early Program.

STEP   intends   to “catch them young” to ensure that they willingly embrace the sector as a    career, establish youth-led agribusinesses, and create  jobs  for  others.  They are also expected to contribute their quota towards food production and safety. The project is being implemented in DR Congo, Kenya and Nigeria.

Student Trained
Teachers Trained
Pilot Enterprises
Schools Reached

“Our goal is to redirect the aspirations of the young youth towards careers in modern agriculture”

Adedayo Adefioye, STEP Liason Officer


We are developing youths interest in agriculture from a young age. STEP aims at changing the narrative of agriculture for secondary school students and teachers. Our goal is to redirect the aspirations of the young youth towards careers in modern agriculture by exposing them to various viable opportunities within the agri-food value chain system. We bridge the gap in agriculture through technology diffusion introducing a unique agribusiness model, which uses a robust agricultural practical curriculum that builds and sustains the interest of young people in the agricultural sector.


We use an integrated training strategy that responds to the agribusiness needs of students, teachers and their communities. We transfer new technologies and modern techniques in agriculture to families, farmers, and communities, using the trained students and teachers. In most cases, this has translated into more employment opportunities, and improved food productivity and income, especially for families whose sources of livelihood were primarily farming.


We Strengthen

Working with agricultural experts, we strengthen the school's agricultural curricular system and learning modules.

We Provide

We provide an enabling environment to learn modern farming techniques and agribusiness management.

We Upgrade

We assess and upgrade the capacities of the teachers and agricultural instructors in the schools.

We Co-create

Working with schools, we ideate and build student extracurricular club (STEP Young Farmers Club) and its operations.

STEP Addresses 7 of the Global SDG's

In 2012, the United Nations developed the renowned 17 sustainable development goals which were set with the sole purpose of meeting the urgent environmental, political and economic needs of countries of the world. Some of these goals blend closely with what STEP has set out to achieve in Africa.