Access to infrastructure can increase youth engagement in agriculture
Youth unemployment remains a critical challenge in developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where the youth unemployment rate is among the world’s highest. While graduate unemployment is a major concern for the Republic of Benin’s government, a study carried out under the IITA–CARE project—sponsored by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) across 10 African countries—explored factors that can influence the country’s youth to venture into agribusiness.
Despite the opportunities for self-employment in agribusiness, most young graduates in the Republic of Benin still seek scarce blue and white–collar jobs. According to the research, even agriculture graduates seek off-farm employment rather than pursuing agribusiness as a career.
Rodrigue Kaki, one of the project’s young researchers who carried out the research, stated that understanding why youth, especially students of agriculture, rarely venture into agribusiness might help policymakers plan strategically to attract more youth into agribusiness in the Republic of Benin.
Over 200,000 or 17% of young citizens between the ages of 15 and 24 in 2011 were neither employed nor in education or training. According to the research, a mindset change is one factor that can increase youth engagement in agriculture, as students who had a positive perception of the agribusiness environment were the most amenable to joining the sector.
Calling on policymakers in the Republic of Benin to incorporate entrepreneurship into the curriculum of agricultural faculties and universities, Kaki also recommended improving the overall agribusiness environment. He added that the government could invest in infrastructure that improves the economy’s competitiveness in general and is essential for its agriculture sector.
With funding from IFAD, the Enhancing Capacity to Apply Research Evidence (CARE) in policy for youth engagement in agribusiness and rural economic activities in Africa project, being implemented by IITA, aims to strengthen the capacity of young African scholars in generating and disseminating evidence-based research results to inform future action plans for governments, policymakers, and rural communities. The project presently has 80 awardees across Africa from countries including Benin, Cameroon, DR Congo, Malawi, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, and Zambia.