Interventions to Enable African Rural Youth participation in agribusiness record more success
African governments and development partners such as IITA, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and others, have devised ways of engaging youth in agribusiness to reduce unemployment and increase standards of living, especially in rural areas. These are outlined in the recently published journal article, “African Rural Youth Engagement in Agribusiness: Achievements, Limitations, and Lessons” by Mastewal Yami, Shiferaw Feleke, Tahirou Abdoulaye, Arega D. Alene, Zoumana Bamba, and Victor Manyong.
Africa has the highest number of young people in the world, as 60 to 70% of the population is below the age of 30. Most African youth live in rural areas and have limited opportunities for gainful employment. However, they have unexploited potentials to transform the agricultural sector through innovation and entrepreneurship. If supported with increased investment and favorable legal and policy frameworks, agriculture holds substantial possibilities to provide gainful employment opportunities to many youth, from producing food to providing services such as storage, transport, processing, and marketing.
For more than a decade now, efforts have been ongoing to engage youth in agribusiness. IITA, together with many African governments and development partners, has carried out various intervention programs to enable youth engagement in agribusiness, such as skills development, facilitating access to resources, and use of technologies in agribusiness. One of the intervention programs is the IITA Youth Agripreneurs program, which in turn has inspired the Empowering Novel AgriBusiness-Led Employment for Youth in African Agriculture (ENABLE Youth), implemented by IITA and funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB). The aim is to expand opportunities in agriculture and agribusiness to youth as a means of advancing rural livelihoods and economic development across Africa.
Another intervention, the Enhancing Capacity to Apply Research Evidence (CARE) in Policy for Youth Engagement in Agribusiness and Rural Economic Activities in Africa, was launched by IITA and funded by IFAD with the aim of providing fellowships for young African scholars, with a special emphasis on young female professionals and students.
These interventions are increasing innovativeness among youth and have recorded some success in rebranding agribusiness as a competitive career path for youth especially in rural areas. However, some limitations have been recorded such as lack of emphasis on sociocultural challenges and misguided targeting of the youth or designing capacity development efforts that meet their specific needs. But the successes outweigh the failures.
The article was published in Volume 11 of the peer-reviewed Sustainability — Open Access Journal. Find full article here: https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/11/1/185/htm.