African governments have been urged to encourage the youth to embrace agriculture by letting them understand they can make money from the sector and its value chains.
The Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Mr Bukar Tijani, who made the call, said there was also the need to support the youth to engage massively in agriculture and agri-business through right policies, access to skills, innovations and right technologies.
“We must address the challenges that disenfranchise the African youth from agriculture such as low productivity, hardship, low levels of mechanisation and modernisation, lack of rural infrastructure and insufficient local processing and value addition,” Mr Tijani said.
Youth employment programme
He was speaking in Accra at the launch of the FAO special programme dubbed: “Youth Employment: enabling decent agriculture and agribusiness jobs”.
The youth employment programme will support the region in harnessing its huge demographic dividend while contributing to the rejuvenation of the ageing farming population.
Beyond farming, the programme will also explore the potential for job creation and rural non-farming economic activities and in food value chains, agri-business development and their related support services.
It will also support the implementation of declarations that will emanate from the 2017 AU year of “Harnessing demographic Dividend through investments in Youth’’ as they relate to empowering youth in agriculture and agricultural value chains.
Mr Tijani underscored the need to motivate the youth through linkages to financial services that did not require collateral which the youth could not provide, rural infrastructure services to facilitate market linkages, and enterprise development and partnership.
He called for support to the youth in agriculture and value chains to be tailored to the needs and priorities of different youth groups such as the low skilled commercially oriented youth and tertiary educated youth.
Currently, the FAO is implementing more than 10 projects focused on youth employment in the Africa region.
Youth in business
The Chief Executive Officer of African Agribusiness Incubators Network, Dr Alex Ariho, said investing in the youth and encouraging them to grow their own businesses was key in dealing with the unemployment situation on the continent.
He added that the youth needed access to technology and innovation, as well as motivation from successful start-ups.