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Sustainable fish farming leads to decent youth employment in West Africa

Sub-Saharan countries identify job opportunities in aquaculture

Photo: ©FAO

8th October 2018, Bissau - Sustainable aquaculture systems are becoming a priority for improving national fish production, reducing fish imports, and creating productive and decent employment opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) provides assistance to a number of countries in this area including Ghana, to launch a National Aquaculture Development Plan 2012–2016.

Nigeria through the support of FAO, finalized a four-year Aquaculture Development Strategy Plan, which focus on value chains to improve national fish production and create employment opportunities.

Speaking at a consultative meeting on regional level strategy model for decent youth employment in aquaculture and related value chains in Guinea-Bissau, Martinus Van Der Knaap Fishery and Aquaculture Officer, FAO Regional Office for Africa, noted that the aim of the aquaculture development plan is to promote private commercial aquaculture, and to improve the sector’s competitiveness.

“In Senegal, the National Agency for Aquaculture received support from FAO to formulate the National Sustainable Aquaculture Development Plan with a Strategic Operational Programme and the requisite legal and regulatory programme framework to secure the sustainable practice of aquaculture throughout the country”, Van Der Knaap said.

For Burkina Faso, the implementation of the National Strategy for the Sustainable Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture has been ongoing since 2003.

Current youth unemployment situation in sub-Saharan Africa

The challenge of youth unemployment is particularly acute in Africa where half of Africa’s population below 25 years old. Approximately 11 million young Africans will join the labor market every year.

Although the current generation of African entrants to the labour force is equipped with academic credentials, many are finding that their prospects for employment and earnings differ very little from those of earlier generations.

In Nigeria for example, youth unemployment rate has increased from 12.3 percent in 2006 to 20.6 percent in 2010, with the situation aggravated by over four million young people entering the job market every year.

Similarly, the unemployment rate among the employable age group of 15–24 years in Ghana is about 16 percent. Similar trends as that of Nigeria and Ghana include Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that in Sub-Saharan Africa, three out of five of the total unemployed are youths, and on average 72 percent of the youth population live with less than two dollars a day.

FAO tackling youth unemployment through Africa Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF)

Six West African countries are participating in the ASTF project: “Creating agribusiness employment opportunities for youth through sustainable aquaculture systems and cassava value chains in West Africa.’’

“Currently, FAO through the ASTF project is focusing on creating agribusiness employment opportunities for youth through sustainable aquaculture systems in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria and Senegal”,Van Der Knaap stressed.

In each of the country, there will be an assessment of the potential of aquaculture and related value chains for youth employment promotion. There will also be an adoption of an integrated model, which will build on lessons and experiences from each of the beneficiary countries.

“This includes the aquaculture and cassava clusters in Nigeria and Guinea Bissau, which are yielding positive results and, in Ghana, building on and providing strategic support to FAO’s ongoing Programmatic Regional Initiative on Cassava. Similar approaches will have been used in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal”, he noted.

The regional level consultative meeting is being organised by the FAO, and bringing together 40 delegates –senior policy officers and managers from government, FAO , other international organizations, NGO, rural youth organizations and private sector, including producer organizations and cooperatives.

The objective of the consultative meeting is to discuss and agree on the elements of a strategy model for the generation of youth employment in the aquaculture sector.

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