Boosting African Agriculture Partnership, Investment and Technology with particular concern on narrowing the investment and access to technology gaps that present limitations for young people across the African Continent is of great interest to me. I am very much excited and do applaud some regional and country-level initiatives to support young people to gain employable skills and in addition provide leeway to access various business support initiatives especially in the agrifood sector.
The periodic engagement of enterprising young people and rural, peri-urban and urban youth-led organizations in technical workshops and fora have gone a long way to deepen knowledge and some understanding of youth employment issues by various agencies. We have a long way to go, however, in the process of youth engagement in policy formulation, project design and implementation for the benefit of the bulging youth population. Some organizations simply choose to incorporate youth agenda in their framework of activities but when it comes to providing the necessary resources (financial and support services) to pragmatically implement those activities, they seem to be unenthusiastic. We have come to a stage where simply organizing conferences, fora, online discussions are seen by most youth as rather superfluous. We seem to be digesting and re-digesting the same old issues on youth unemployment. I tend to agree with them.
The Global Youth Innovation Network, the Agriculture Rural Development and Youth Information Society (ARDYIS), the Young Professionals in Agriculture and Rural Development (YPARD), and other regional youth networks especially in the Africa, Carribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions are doing quite well in bringing to the fore solutions to youth unemployment through agriculture. Such initiatives should be supported to scale.
Technical, financial and policy environment challenges hinder young people from becoming key actors in exploiting the limitless opportunities across the agricultural value chain through different private sector and civil society platforms. It is a truism that Africa currently boasts of the world’s youngest population, which, if well-educated and skills impacted can provide an inexhaustible, efficient, innovative and productive labour force for Agriculture.
Based on my over three years of work in the agricultural sector as an entrepreneur, I have researched five identifiable basic principles that seem to encourage financial institutions to support rural (and urban) young people in agriculture: Land Security; Balance Sheet of the young person’s enterprise; Commercial hub that provides access to mechanization; Prices and Markets. I will therefore recommend that these principles are succinctly captured and serve as key drivers and priorities in any project framework that seeks to support youth to work in agriculture.
The time to think anew and act anew is NOW!
Solomon Elorm Allavi
GIS Mapping Specialist
Syecomp Business Services Ltd