Bureau régional de la FAO pour le Proche-Orient et l’Afrique du Nord

Harnessing the potential of Palestinian youth to contribute to the agri-food sector

FAO and Denmark in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture partner with local universities to create green jobs for university graduates

Sanaa, a young Palestinian farmer and recent graduate in her strawberry farm ©FAO/Sithembile Siziba

12 August 2020, Palestine – The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has entered into partnerships with four Palestinian Universities namely An Najah National University, Khadori University, Al-Quds University and Hebron University, that will lead to the creation of sustainable employment opportunities for young graduates in the agri-food sector.

These partnerships come within the framework of a programme titled ‘Green jobs and Sustainable Income Opportunities for Palestinian Female and Male Youth in the Agri-food Sector’, funded by the Government of Denmark. Two hundred and fifty Palestinian youth are set to benefit from the intervention through receiving support to access entrepreneurship opportunities across the agri-food sector. With an emphasis on addressing gender inequality, 50 percent of the selected youth will be females.  

“We are glad to see this highly important programme being launched,” said Ms. Nathalia Feinberg, Head of Mission, Danish Representative Office. “We are confident that it is a worthy investment in the future of young Palestinians and it will contribute to stimulating local economic growth and enhancing food security and social stability within the Palestinian community’’, she added.  

Palestinian youth continue to face social and economic challenges resulting in high unemployment rates amid increasing numbers of graduates from local universities and youth-headed households: youth unemployment has increased over the past decades, going from 35.3 percent in 2007 to 40.1 percent in 2019. According to Dr. Ciro Fiorillo, Head of Office for FAO West Bank and Gaza Strip, the agri-food sector provides an untapped employment opportunity to these young women and men who are disproportionately unemployed.

“The agri-food sector presents a sustainable avenue of employment and entrepreneurship for young people, through the introduction of green innovations in farming and the value addition by innovative agri-businesses in production, processing and distribution of food,” he said.

“The programme will build the capacities of youth through training designed to inform and empower the desire, knowledge and skills of young people to address the skills mismatch in the agri-food labor market and to achieve a paradigm shift in environmental sustainability. The selected youth will undergo eight months of coaching through partnering with private and public actors, and they will eventually receive support to develop viable and profitable business plans for green enterprise developments that will compete for co-investments with a ceiling of USD 20,000 for each business plan”, explained Dr. Azzam Saleh, Head of Programme, FAO West Bank and Gaza Strip.  “The business plans to be supported will be selected competitively based on merit, innovation and contribution to green economic development’’, he added.

The newly formed partnership with local universities, a first of its kind, will contribute to reducing the effects of climate change by addressing local issues through green enterprise development while developing an environment in which young graduates can access and contribute to create decent, sustainable employment opportunities in the agri-food sector.