IFAD-CARE contributing to policymaking through research
With Africa’s population set to double by 2050, according to a report from the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) in Washington, there is a growing sense of urgency about the need to address the issues of food insecurity, youth unemployment, and poverty across the Continent. Studies have shown that to address these key issues, which can all be linked to agriculture, recommendations and innovations derived from research results are pivotal.
The transformation of the agricultural sector is critical, since it will continue to be the primary sector to stimulate economic growth. A strategic involvement of Africa’s youth in rural development, agriculture, and natural resource management will boost economic growth across Africa, as the youth of today will likely be the future drivers of the world’s food systems and markets.
As a growing wave of programs, agribusinesses, and agripreneurs moves across the continent to address these issues of food security, youth unemployment, poverty, and zero hunger, there are attendant challenges associated with these developments. Of specific note is the lack of research and evidence-based information concerning the nature of the problem and potential solutions, to guide both policy development and program implementation.
Policy development can be impacted positively if research recommendations are adopted to address challenges inherent in the society, and even more so if the recommendations are founded on evidence-based research.
Currently, the agricultural sector is witnessing the rise of youth who are taking advantage of agricultural research and the new technologies being developed and tailored to African agroecologies. African young people are discovering that they can make farming a profitable career, yet there is a huge need to strengthen the system to ensure sustainability of the transformation process to achieve the goal of youth employment, poverty alleviation, food security and zero hunger. In addition, there is little youth-specific research on self-employment and the need for more scholarly research on factors affecting rural economic activities in Africa.
To address these, the Enhancing Capacity to Apply Research Evidence (CARE) in Policy for Youth Engagement in Agribusiness and Rural Economic Activities in Africa, a three-year project funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), is strategically positioned to contribute to the growth of a new paradigm for knowledge creation that will lead to the development of effective policies and agribusiness development in Africa.
The project is implemented by the IITA and provides grants and support for young African scholars who aim to acquire a Masters’ or Doctoral degree while strengthening their capacity in generating, appraising, and disseminating evidence-based results to inform future action plans for national governments, the international community, the business sector, and local communities.
One of the grantees, Dolapo Adeyanju, a Nigerian national and a research Masters’ student, explained that research recommendations are essential for practical policy makings. Adeyanju currently studies at the Department of Agricultural Economics of the University of Nairobi, Kenya in collaboration with the University of Pretoria, South Africa and her recent research work focuses on the impact of agricultural programs on youth agripreneurship performance in Nigeria. “Policy makers cannot operate in a vacuum. Sometimes, they do not have enough knowledge to develop appropriate policies which call for relevant evidence ,which comes from research results and recommendations,” she stated.
“In recent times, many young people have come to see and accept agribusiness as a sustainable and profitable career choice. Even though it can be said that there is still a lot to be put in place in terms of creating an enabling environment for young agribusiness owners in the form of policies and interventions that could help young agripreneurs and prospective ones”.
Suleiman Umar, another grant recipient and research fellow at the Institute for Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, stated that there is need for continuous reinforcement of mindset change, coaching, and mentoring of young people in Africa to understand the importance of agriculture and youth can engage in agribusiness. Umar, who is researching the factors affecting rural to urban migration and its effects on the society, notes that the implication is that youth engagement in agribusiness will have an increasing effect on the economy and the larger society, in terms of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Gross National Product (GNP), and other indicators.
The CARE project, which presently has 30 beneficiaries, ultimately aims to improve the availability, exchange, dissemination, and use of research findings in the field of agribusiness and rural economic activities from young African scholars. The objective is to influence policy and practice in support of economic growth and achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, working at local, national, and regional levels in Africa.