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FAO-EAC launch project to expand job opportunities in the agriculture sector for the youth in East Africa

The agricultural sector can and need to contribute to improve the jobs prospects for the rural youth. ©FAO/ Tamiru Legesse

28 June, 2017, Arusha - Despite significant economic growth, youth unemployment remains a concern in East Africa Community (EAC) Member States as a significant proportion of their population is below the age of 35.

This trend expected to persist into the future. The agricultural sector, which dominates most of the economies has been identified as having a key role to play in job creation and more broadly rural transformation.

In that regard, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and EAC held an inception two-day workshop in Tanzania to define activities for enhancing youth employment in the agricultural sector across the member states of EAC.

 Speaking at the opening, Patrick Kormawa, FAO subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa and Representative to the AU and UNECA, highlighted the importance of investment in youth employment in agriculture saying “true rural transformation cannot be accomplished in East Africa without empowering the youth as agents of change”.

“The agricultural sector can and need to contribute to improve the jobs prospects for the rural youth. The sector hosts a largely untapped reservoir of employment opportunities. Beyond farm jobs, there is significant potential for job creation in rural non-farm economic activities around food value chains linked to sustainable agriculture, agri-business development and related support services”, he added.

Kormawa emphasized the need to translate policies and strategies into programs and increase investment in youth through different approaches such as capacity development and networking, entrepreneurship, youth focused financing and promoting science, technology and innovation. 

The youth on the other hand also must commit themselves to the interventions to make them succeed. They need to be willing to learn and abolish the “get rich mentality” by exercising patience

Highlighting the importance of the joint collaboration, Hon. Christophe Bazivamo, Deputy Secretary General- Productive and Social Sectors said the project will help EAC member states to address one of the key targets under the Malabo Declaration of halving poverty by the year 2025.

The key targets and principles responding to this commitment include: Creating job opportunities for on what was needed to engage youth in the agricultural sector.  At least 30% of the youth in agricultural value chains; and supporting and facilitating preferential entry and participation for women and youth in gainful and attractive agri-business opportunities. Moreover, the project is relevant to the current African Union theme of “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through investments in youth". 

Hon. Bazivamo asked the participants to critically review the project document and come up with recommendations that ensure that the project is implemented in a manner that will ensure good accountability, value for money and deliver quick and tangible results and outcomes in the region.

The EAC partner states, after the deliberations identified three main areas of intervention: Identification and documentation of best practices which can be replicated in other Partner States; Undertaking capacity development activities including exchange visits and information platforms; and designing mechanisms for youth mobilization and recognition.

To achieve impact, the project will build on existing youth initiatives in the EAC member states and seek strategic partners to continue the work beyond the project duration.

 

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