Tapping into young people’s agribusiness potential in Rwanda

By Gualbert Gbehounou, FAO Representative in Rwanda

An award-winning project helps grow Rwanda’s next generation of agribusiness entrepreneurs ©FAO/Teopista Mutesi


Like many African countries, Rwanda’s population is young. A third of Rwandans are aged between 15 and 34, and youth employment is a critical policy issue that directly affects national food security. Indeed, youth engagement in agribusiness in developing countries is a crucial asset to achieving sustainable food security. Recognising this, the Government of Rwanda engaged FAO in a technical partnership that has boosted skills and improved networks for the next generation of Rwanda’s agricultural entrepreneurs.

From 2016 to 2017, FAO delivered a Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) to support the Government of Rwanda to establish the Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum (RYAF), a platform that brings together different youth organizations, individual young farmers and entrepreneurs working in the agriculture sector.

The Forum has helped change young people’s mindsets about agriculture, with many young people seeing that the sector has had technological advances since their parents began farming, and is now a real business opportunity. The Forum could be replicated in countries wanting to engage more young people in the agriculture sector.


Bringing the Youth Forum to life

In close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), the team working on the Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum developed a five-year strategic framework, and carried out mapping to assess gaps, challenges and main opportunities for Rwanda’s youth in agribusiness.

Today, the Forum offers its members connection to a well-organised network of other young agricultural entrepreneurs, business development support, mentoring and coaching, and access to global opportunities designed for youth in agribusiness. It has contributed to enhancing the involvement of youth in agribusiness, and youth are now recognized as stakeholders in transforming Rwanda’s agrifood systems. More than 3,600 young people are registered on the Forum and 3,100 businesses owned by young people. Their areas of work include agro-processing, livestock production, crop production, inputs and agro-services, and ICT for agriculture.

As a result of these efforts, Rwanda was presented with the FAO Edouard Saouma Award in 2018 in recognition of the exceptional approach to tackling youth unemployment and the challenges faced by youth in agriculture. The Award is presented by FAO to a national or regional institution that has implemented with particular efficiency a project funded by FAO’s Technical Cooperation Programme.


Replicating success

Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources was an ideal partner for this successful project. Such partnerships are fundamental to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and, more specifically, to boost youth employment in rural areas.

Other countries could replicate such success through the creation of similar government-led integrated networks which provide youth with the opportunity to both access training and learn from their peers. Key ingredients for sustained success include governments actively engaging youth as a partner in sustainable development,  as well as technical assistance, policy support, and resource mobilization to support the programme, and keeping capacity building relevant to current needs. The lessons learned by the youth of today will become the successes of the farmers of tomorrow.

The TCP project built upon the technical implementations in Rwanda, in conjunction with MINARGI. The ability of FAO to build upon capacity developed in the field through more complex and integrated networks ensures that the knowledge shared and built will be carried forward to the next generation of youth in agriculture.  

Technical Partners

Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources

Resource Partners

FAO Technical Cooperation Programme

Related links

2. Zero hunger, 8. Decent work and economic growth