FAO Regional Office for Africa

NEPAD and FAO launch rural youth project at the 11th CAADP Platform

USD$ 4 million to benefit young men and women in rural Africa

(From L - R) Malawi Minister of Agriculture and Food security, Hon. Dr Allan J Chiyembekeza - NEPAD CEO, Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki - FAO ADG, Mr Bukar Tijani; AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Mrs Tumusiime Rhoda Peace

25 March 2015, Johannesburg - The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), today launched a 4-year project that aims to create decent employment opportunities for young women and men in rural areas, through the development of rural enterprises in sustainable agriculture and agribusiness along strategic value chains. The USD$ 4 million project is funded by the African Solidarity Trust Fund.

Speaking at the signing ceremony for the project, NEPAD's chief executive officer, Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, lauded this partnership. “The collaboration between NEPAD and FAO will go a long way in ensuring that the youth, Africa’s future, are not forgotten. It is by creating an economic environment that stimulates initiatives - particularly by conducting transparent and foreseeable policies - and at the same time by regulating the market in order to deal with market failures that we will attain results and impact through the new thrust given to our farmers, entrepreneurs and youth.”

The project – which will see over 100 000 young men and women in rural Benin, Cameroon, Malawi and Niger benefit - is anchored in the Rural Futures Program of NEPAD. Rural transformation is at the heart of this Programe where equity and inclusiveness is key and rural men and women can develop their potential and thrive.

Agriculture and agribusiness transformation required

FAO Assistant Director General for Africa Mr Bukar Tijani said, “Today marks an important milestone in moving forward and upward in terms of empowering youth in these four countries - especially women, as 2015 is the African Union’s year of women empowerment. This is actually also one of the concrete ways that we can see the declarations made in Malabo in mid 2014, coming to fruition by opening new paths for African youth within the agricultural arena”.

Over half of the continent’s population is below 25 years and approximately 11 million young Africans will join the labour market every year for the next decade. Despite strong economic growth in many African countries, wage employment is limited and agriculture and agribusiness continue to provide income and employment for over 60 percent of Sub Saharan Africa’s population.

However, the laborious, subsistence-oriented small-scale agriculture is often not the preferred choice of work for many young people. If Africa is to reap from this demographic dividend, it will need to attract young people in to the agri-food sector. This will require transforming the agriculture and agribusiness sector to be more modern, profitable and efficient capable of providing decent employment opportunities for this young labour force.

Africa leaders need to set policies that encourage skills development in the agriculture sector to train the youth in different aspects of agribusiness and ‘Agripreneurship’ along agriculture value chains for them to take agriculture as a business. The emphasis of this project is on acquisition of skills along specific value chains and the transition of the trainees into business in the sector.

Ending Hunger by 2025

In 2012 the African Union Commission, NEPAD Agency, the Lula Institute and FAO formed a partnership aimed at ending hunger in the continent. A year later, the four partners organised a high-level meeting of ministers - in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - leading to a declaration to end hunger and a road map for implementation.

This Declaration was subsequently endorsed at the 2014 African Union summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea and incorporated as the “Commitment to Ending Hunger in Africa by 2025” in the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods. In providing a model for advancing the Commitment to Ending Hunger by 2025, it contributes to the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), which aims to boost agricultural productivity and food security on the continent.

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