EAC and FAO scale up support for youth in agribusiness
The East African Community (EAC) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have reaffirmed their commitment in creating more job opportunities for East African youth in the agriculture sector.
Speaking at a workshop to validate and institutionalize agribusiness best practices in the EAC Partner States, Hon. Christophe Bazivamo, EAC Deputy Secretary General for Productive and Social Sectors, noted that the youth in the region had the potential to boost productivity and strengthen economic growth.
“Engaging the youth in agriculture is increasingly seen as a potential solution to youth unemployment, food insecurity, rural poverty and distress migration, by unlocking the multi-layered prospects around farming, including processing, packaging, transportation, distribution, marketing and financial services,” said Hon. Bazivamo.
The International Youth Conference, held in Kigali Rwanda, urged the youth in Africa to reverse the often-negative perceptions associated with agriculture and take pride in being farmers. The Conference further encouraged the youth to change the image and conversation around agriculture - "think beyond farm jobs," and to explore employment opportunities across the agri-food chain.
Mohamed Aw-Dahir, Senior Programme and Partnership Officer at FAO Subregional Office for Eastern Africa said that investing in young people living in rural areas is key to enhancing agricultural productivity, boosting rural economies and ensuring food security.
He further stressed on the need for developing solutions tailored for the youth. “FAO and EAC are seeking innovative business models and appropriate technologies to engage the largely untapped reservoir of youth in agriculture to accelerate innovative ideas around youth-led and youth-focused entrepreneurship and employment,” said Aw-Dahir.
Over the past 12 months, EAC and FAO have been implementing a catalytic project, which aims at reducing rural poverty and to boost economic growth through supporting the creation of better opportunities for youth in the agricultural sector. One of the key results of the project has been the documentation of successful agribusiness models for youth employment in the agricultural sector and creating platforms for sharing of these “best practices” between various youth groups.
Youth represent about 45 percent (48 million) of the total population of the East African Community’s (EAC) Partner States. In the next 20 years, this number is expected to grow to about 82 million. If properly harnessed, the youth have the potential to boost productivity, and strengthen inclusive economic growth. Therefore, engaging the youth across the agri-food chain is increasingly seen as a potential solution to youth unemployment, food insecurity, rural poverty and distress migration for EAC.
To this effect, EAC Secretariat and FAO Subregional Office for Eastern Africa have identified and documented best practices and youth agribusiness models across EAC partners States, which were presented and validated at the regional partnership and resource mobilization workshop.
The workshop brought together model agribusiness entrepreneurs and experts from the line Ministries of the EAC Partner States, namely Burundi, Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda and the media. The meeting presented opportunities to forge new partnerships and mobilize resources to scale up youth employment opportunities across the agri-food chain.
The outcome of the workshop would inform potential programme design at national and regional levels as well as policies on how best youth unemployment can be addressed through job creation in agriculture and agribusiness, in order to promote decent rural employment in the agriculture sector in the EAC Partner States.