Africa is betting on agriculture in order generate the much-needed jobs for its young people as it seeks for sustainable approaches to avert the prevailing migration of its youth, especially to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea .
The proposal to attract more young people to farming was emphasised yesterday in Kigali where stakeholders in agriculture are attending a conference on Youth Employment in Agriculture.
Themed “Youth in Agriculture as a Solid Solution to ending Hunger and Poverty in Africa-Engaging through ICTs and entrepreneurship”, the two-day conference, which ends today seeks to leverage on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTS) in agriculture to create well-paying jobs.
The African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Sacko Josefa Leonel Correa, said that youth unemployment is the primary cause of the deadly migration of African youth to Europe.
Adopting ICT, she said, will improve businesses and create job opportunities.
“We need to mobilise more resources for youth in agriculture businesses for employment creation; we need to see the proliferation of youth enterprises along agriculture, animal production and fishery value chain,” she said.
“We need to see more youth involved in green energy, climate smart agriculture production”.
Agriculture accounts for 32 per cent of the Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 65 per cent of the jobs created on the continent, according Rwanda’s Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, Gerardine Mukeshimana
This, she said, means that developing African economies requires developing the agriculture sector, particularly through harnessing opportunities from entrepreneurships and ICT solutions.
“It is not a secret that many young people do not go into agriculture because they find it as an unattractive form of employment. Sustainable solutions for decent youth employment in agriculture must therefore address the intertwined issues of making agriculture attractive to youth while maximizing financial returns,” Mukeshimana said
World Bank forecasts suggest that Africa needs to create 10 to 12 million new jobs every year to accommodate new entrants in its labour market.
With 60 per cent of Africa’s 1.2 billion population below the age of 25 years the continent has the highest number of young people, according to the Director General of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), José Graziano da Silva.
Graziano said that two out of three youth that try to enter the labour market don’t find an opportunity. “It’s not a surprise also that they try to migrate,” he said.
Adopting ICT would address some of the constraints that hinder the youth from engaging in ICT such as limited access to irrigation, technical training, finance, incubation, and very low involvement in the decision making process, Gaziano said.
“We have to bear in mind that sustainable development in Africa can only be achieved if decent employment opportunities are created for the youth,” he said.
Jean Baptiste Hategekimana, the Chairperson of Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum (RYAF), said that agriculture has many opportunities for youth employment, citing opportunities in cultivating and processing of Sweet potatoes.
“Currently, sweet potatoes are processed into flour that can be mixed with wheat flour in making bread So, if we can grow more sweet potatoes to produce flour to supplement wheat flour for bakery, we can reduce the imports of wheat into Rwanda which is caused by lack of enough wheat produce,” Hategekimana said.
The conference convened various participants including youth engaged in agribusiness, officials from all over Africa and some global agriculture-related organisations.
First Published by New Times