By JUDITH NAMUTOWE –
THE African Development Bank (AfDB) has called for global support to Africa’s young farmers by highlighting how agribusiness is the answer to the continent’s youth unemployment.
This is after the AfDB brought together stakeholders to discuss how to expand economic opportunities for Africa’s youth throughout the agricultural value chain.
The initiative was In collaboration with the Initiative for Global Development, the Association of African Agricultural Professionals in the Diaspora (AAAPD), Michigan State University, Iowa State University, and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.
This is contained in a statement issued in Lusaka yesterday.
The session titled ‘Making farming cool: investing in future African farmers and Agripreneurs” was held on the sidelines of the ongoing 2017 World Food Prize Symposium-Borlaug Dialogue in Des Moines, Iowa, and had in attendance young entrepreneurs from Africa , policymakers and thought leaders.
AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina said Africa had the world’s youngest population with 60 per cent being under 35 years old and there were 420 million youth aged between 15-35 and this segment of the population is expected to double to 840 million by 2040.
Working with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the AfDB is empowering young farmers under the Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment (ENABLE) Youth programme.
“Africa’s next billionaires are not going to come from oil, gas, or the extractives. ENABLE Youth is about investing in small agribusinesses today so that they can grow into large enterprises tomorrow,” Dr Adesina said.
He said by empowering youth at each stage of the agribusiness value chain they would be able to establish viable and profitable agribusinesses, jobs and better incomes for themselves and their communities,” he said.
He said attracting a cadre of young, energetic and talented agripreneurs who would drive the adoption of new technologies throughout the value chain, raise productivity and meet rising food demands was an urgent priority.
Recent studies indicated that as African economies transform, there were expanding opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship throughout high potential value chains from the laboratory to the fork where consumer demand was increasing, including horticulture, dairy, oilseeds, poultry and aquaculture.
Dr Adesina also said there were huge opportunities for engaging African youth in services and logistical sectors in key off-farm activities such as transportation, packaging, Information Communication and
Technology (ICT) that added value to on-farm productivity and efficiency, in ways that could not be envisioned before.
He said the whole idea of connecting farms to markets, particularly rising urban and regional markets was where Africa needed to plug in bulging youth population.