Fellow Since 2012
Youth Development Initiative Project (Y-DIP)
This profile was prepared when Tobenna Nwagujiobi was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
In a context where unemployed university graduates are returning to their villages, becoming idle and sometimes destructive, Tobenna is repositioning this group as the leaders of a new kind of employment in their villages: agriculture. Specifically, Tobenna has created a team farming model that partners recent graduates with other unemployed youth struggling to find their footing in the village. In groups of thirty, they work together to incorporate a wide variety of crops and livestock into an integrated farming system that bucks the prevailing practice of planting one seasonal cash crop; leaving farmers without any income for part of the year. Key to this approach is turning around the community’s perception, which too often snubs university graduates who return home without having landed a job in the city, and have little initial tolerance for their bringing shame to the family by taking up farming; considered the work of the poor and illiterate. Through community engagement, Tobenna prepares village chiefs and the community at-large, to understand the role these young people can play in revitalizing farming and catapulting it into the 21st century. Convinced of this rebranded role, and the effect it has had in reducing the incidence of crime in the community, the chief in Tobenna’s village, has not only doubled the land given to the young people executing this model of farming, but has joined Tobenna in spreading the model to nearby villages.